Canadian Grand Prix history 09 Jun 2004
A look back at over 30 years of racing in North America
Jack Brabham was the winner of Canada's first world championship Formula One race back in 1967, steering one of his own team cars to victory around the dramatic Mosport Park track near Toronto.
Organisers then planned to alternate the Canadian Grand Prix between Mosport and the Mont Tremblant track in Quebec, which hosted its first race in 1968. Denny Hulme took victory, but the fact that only seven cars finished the race highlighted the unsuitable nature of the punishing track surface. The venue staged just one more Grand Prix in 1970, won by Jacky Ickx.
The Canadian Grand Prix then continued at Mosport Park until 1977, the only break being due to financial problems in 1975. Among the illustrious names to win at the track were Jackie Stewart (twice), Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt and Jody Scheckter.
Mosports's most famous race was undoubtedly the 1973 event, which saw a pace car on track for the first time during a Grand Prix. It followed a collision between the Tyrrell of Francois Cevert and the McLaren of Scheckter in treacherous, wet conditions. Scheckter's team mate Peter Revson then came from almost a lap behind to take victory.
The race switched to its current home in Montreal for 1978 after Mosport was finally deemed too outdated for the requirements of Formula One racing. The new circuit, later renamed after Canada's beloved Gilles Villeneuve, used both purpose-built sections and parts of the city's public streets. Featuring several long straights, broken by tight chicanes and hairpins, it quickly gained a reputation as a car breaker, being particularly hard on brakes. Nevertheless it remains one of the most popular tracks on the Formula One calendar.
Canadian fans got their dream result at the first Montreal race, Villeneuve starting from third on the grid to take his very first Grand Prix victory in a Ferrari. Alan Jones then made it two wins in a row for Williams in 1979 and 1980, before Ligier's Jacques Laffite took the flag in a rain-hit 1981 event.
For 1982 the Montreal track became the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, following the famous Canadian's death at Zolder earlier that year. Tragically the race saw another death after Riccardo Paletti went into the back of Didier Pironi's stalled Ferrari at the start. Nelson Piquet eventually won for Brabham.
Piquet was victorious again in 1984 and 1991, on the second occasion at the expense of an over exuberant Nigel Mansell. The Williams driver was on course for a comfortable win until he managed to switch off the engine while waving to the crowd on the final lap.
Mansell did manage to win in 1986, however. There was no Canadian race in 1987, but Ayrton Senna took the first of two Montreal victories in 1988.The Brazilian's 1990 triumph came at the expense of team mate Gerhard Berger, who jumped the start and was handed a one-minute time penalty. Berger made amends with victory in 1982.
Thierry Boutsen took his maiden Grand Prix win in Montreal in1989, leading home team mate Riccardo Patrese for a Williams one-two after a rain-swept race. 1993 saw Alain Prost's only Canadian triumph, also at the wheel of a Williams, while Jean Alesi scored the sole victory of his Formula One career at the circuit in 1995.
Michael Schumacher has won in Canada a record six times, his first success coming in 1994 while at Benetton. He had to wait until 1997 for his next victory, which came at the expense of McLaren's David Coulthard, whose car refused to select first gear after a pitstop. That year's race was shortened after Prost's Olivier Panis broke his legs in an accident.
Schumacher won again for Ferrari in 1998, after Alex Wurz's dramatic start-line roll, and was on course for victory the following year, before crashing out to hand victory to McLaren's Mika Hakkinen. He made no mistakes in 2000, however, taking his third Canadian win for Ferrari.
For the 2001 event it was a Schumacher again on the top step of the podium, although this time it was Ralf and not Michael. The two brothers started on the front row and it was Michael who led away from pole. However, when the world champion pitted Ralf put in a number of scintillating laps to move ahead following his own stop.
Another Michael Schumacher win in 2002 gave Ferrari their 150th Grand Prix victory. The German was pushed hard by Williams Juan Pablo Montoya until the Colombians engine failed on lap 56 and he went on to finish just over a second ahead of the McLaren of David Coulthard, with Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello clinching the final podium spot.
Schumacher did it again last year, though a brake problem meant he had his work cut out. The world champion was forced to dictate a slightly less than flying pace from the front and when he took the chequered flag he had the Williams duo of brother Ralf and Montoya right on his tail, with just 1.3 seconds separating the three of them.