Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Montreal Facts and Stats

*The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is located on the Ile de Notre Dame, aman-made island on the St. Lawrence River that was constructed for the1967 Expo world fair. The island also provided the swimming arena androwing basin for the 1976 Olympic Games.

* The race has been on the Formula 1 calendar since 1967. Itpreviously took place at the undulating Mosport Park road course northof Toronto, and at the even more spectacular Mont Tremblant-St Jovitevenue, in the ski country north of Montreal.

* The race moved to Montreal itself in 1978 and was won by thenow-legendary Gilles Villeneuve (after whom the circuit is named). Notonly was it the pint-sized hero's first F1 victory, he also became thefirst Canadian to win a grand prix in the process.

* Gilles' brother Jacques tried and failed to qualify a RAM for the1983 Canadian Grand Prix.

* Montreal has a habit of producing first-lap incidents. A recent one,in 2001, was triggered by Jenson Button and accounted for Benettonteam-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.

* Nigel Mansell was left red-faced in 1991, when he ground to a halton the last lap while leading. The Brit was waving to the crowd whenhe allowed the revs to drop too low at the hairpin and stalled hisWilliams.

* Montreal is a little-used semi-permanent parkland circuit. Until2002 when it began hosting an annual Champ Car race, it was generallyonly used once a year for the grand prix.

* Jacques Villeneuve first came to the attention of the F1 paddock bywinning the Formula Atlantic support race at the Canadian Grand Prixin 1993.

* Jean Alesi scored what would prove to be his only grand prix victoryin his 91st start at Montreal in 1995. The feisty French-Sicilian hadcome close to winning several times before, including as early as 1990when he diced with Ayrton Senna for the lead of the US GP, and wasbeside himself with joy at finally breaking his duck. His elation wasshared by most of the F1 paddock – and a large number of fans whoinvaded the track even as battles continued for the minor placings.

* Ralf and Michael Schumacher's 1-2 at Montreal in 2001 was the firsttime in F1 history that two brothers finished a race first and second.They repeated the feat in 2003 – but with roles reversed.

* Ferrari has more Canadian GP victories to its name than any otherteam with 11. McLaren has nine wins and Williams seven.

* Canada witnessed the first victory for BMW's turbo engine, which wonthe 1982 race in the back of Nelson Piquet's Brabham.* Canadian hero Jacques Villeneuve finished his F1 career with adisappointing record in his home grand prix. The son of Gilles' bestresult in his home race was his first attempt in 1996 when he finishedsecond behind team-mate Damon Hill.After that he amazingly only finished the race once more in nineattempts, including two crashes at the infamous 'Wall of Champions'.

* The wall at the final turn has also claimed other high profileschampions including Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill.* Schumacher's 1999 crash, however, remained one of few blips in whatwas a remarkable record in Montreal. The German won on the Circuit deGilles Villeneuve a record seven times (1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002,2003, 2004). When he didn't win though he invariably finished second,a position he achieved on four occasions.

* Second was a position the seven-time world champion had to settlefor last year as Renault's Fernando Alonso took his first victory inMontreal.The Spaniard's victory ended what had been a dismal personal record atthe circuit, having retired in three of his previous four visits. His2005 DNF was self-inflicted when he brushed the wall at turn four. Therace-ending error, however, remains to date his last - 35 races ago.

* Rubens Barrichello holds the lap record, his benchmark time of1m13.622s set in Ferrari's dominant 2004 season.

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