Bienvenue en…Autriche? Yes, due to the cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix and the Turkish Grand Prix this year, we have another double-header at the Red Bull ring. While disappointed, we at GridTalk understand that the plague has not yet gone away, and we hope that the situation in Canada and Turkey improves so that we can return to those countries next year. On the bright side, we have several classic F1 races to look back on from The Great White North. So join us as we briefly highlight eight classic Canadian Grand Prix races.
XV Labatt’s Canadian Grand Prix (1976)
The 1976 Grand Prix took place at Mosport Park in Ontario. It is one of three tracks to have held the Grand Prix in Canada. The first one being held at Mosport Park in 1961, with the race alternating between Mosport and the Mont -Tremblant circuit in Quebec between 1967 and 1971. James Hunt won the ’76 race at Mosport, and his drive was one of his best. Hunt had lost 9 points from his British Grand Prix victory that year, with Niki Lauda gaining 3 points. The anger was channelled into his performance. While initially losing his lead from pole to Ronnie Peterson, he clawed it back and won the race. This victory helped him gain back his 9 points, while Lauda retired from 5th place due to car issues.
Grand Prix Molson du Canada (1991)
If you are a fan of Nelson Piquet, then watch this one for his last hurrah. His final career win in Formula One was dramatic, as it was unexpected. The leader of this race, Nigel Mansell, managed to keep out of trouble as the majority of competitors retired from the race for various car issues, including Aryton Senna, Alain Prost, Jean Alesi, and Mika Hakkinen, to name but a few. Then, at the worst possible time, Mansell’s car stopped. On the last lap. By the hairpin. That on its own is a moment to relive, my friends.
Grand Prix Molson du Canada (1995)
Jean Alessi’s one and only victory came in the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix, and it was worth the damn wait. 5 years of racing, and he did it. And, for added poignancy, he drove his Ferrari, adorned with the number 27, the same number used by the late Gilles Villeneuve (who was the first Canadian winner of the Canadian Grand Prix). This race also marked the last time to date that a Grand Prix was won by a car with a V12 engine and the only race of the season won by a non-Renault-powered car. It’s an emotional race to watch, and there is lots of good action in there too.
XXXVII Grand Prix Air Canada (1999)
Welcome to Quebec! The 1999 Canadian Grand Prix was famous for that crash in The Wall of Champions. For the newer fans among us, allow me to explain. Former World Champions Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill, and Michael Schumacher all crashed into the outside wall of the final chicane, which led to their retirements from the race, and the wall being given the infamous name as ‘The Wall of Champions’. The famous image (attached below) of the wall is part of F1 History and worth rewatching.
Grand Prix Air Canada 2001 (2001)
This is Ralf Schumacher proving himself as capable of a driver as his older brother by achieving his second victory of the season, and beating his brother in, what he later admitted, was the first time he had competitively raced with Michael. Noteworthy is that this is the first, and so far only, time in F1 that two brothers have come first and second in a race.
Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada 2007 (2007)
Dramatic Disqualifications, Retirements aplenty, and drivers who were NOT in Ferrari or McLaren taking podium positions?! A great race for Alexander Wurz and Nick Heidfeld, who joined 2007 newcomer Lewis Hamilton on the podium, in a race that saw drama in the McLaren paddocks, as Alonso played off Hamilton’s first-ever F1 victory as ‘luck’, while Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella left the pit lane while the red light was still on, causing their disqualification at Lap 51. Infamously, this race is also known for the violent crash that Robert Kubica was in, causing him to miss his next race, being replaced by Sebastian Vettel.
Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada 2008 (2008)
“…as I exited the box, I saw two cars jostling for position ahead of me in the pit lane. Obviously, I didn’t want to get involved in their tussle and was trying not to do so, and then all of a sudden, they stopped. And by the time they’d come to a halt, it was too late for me to avoid them.” is what Lewis Hamilton said in response to crashing into the back of defending F1 champion, Kimi Raikkonen. Robert Kubica won this race in a stunning victory after the previous year’s accident, which saw him briefly lead the world championship ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Nick Heidfeld and David Coulthard, of Sauber and Red Bull, respectively, would round out the Podium.
Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada 2011 (2011)
The last race I will cover is 2011’s Canadian Grand Prix. This is my Dad’s favourite of the eight, because Jenson Button won it from 7th, over the course of the race. It was a wet track, and ultimately, some of the cars would crash and retire, including former champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Vettel was on pole but would lose his place to Button in an excellent showdown at the race’s close. Vettel led by 0.9 seconds on the final lap before he ran wide at turn six. Button passed him to take the lead and held it to win the race. Vettel recovered from going off-track and finished second. Definitely worth the rewatch.