5 Things to Know About Circuit Gilles Villeneuve ahead of the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, situated in the heart of Montreal, Quebec, is one of the most iconic and challenging motor racing circuits on the planet. Named after the legendary Canadian Formula 1 driver, Gilles Villeneuve, father of Jacques, the track has a rich history having hosted many prestigious motorsport events since its formation in 1978.

With the exception of a few years when the Canadian Grand Prix was staged at Mosport Park and Circuit Mont-Tremblant, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has always been the host venue of Canada’s premier F1 race.

Looking at the most recent Canadian Grand Prix races in 2022 and 2023, both have been dominated by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who has been in imperious form in recent seasons. It’s therefore no surprise to see the Dutchman priced as a heavy -714 favorite with Betano to win the upcoming 2024 F1 World Championship. This licensed sports betting operator covers every lap of the F1 season for Canadian bettors, including the Canadian Grand Prix.

How long is the circuit?

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve measures approximately 4.361 kilometers, which is just over 2.7 miles in length. The track features a total of 14 turns, involving a host of tight chicanes and high-speed straights. The layout encourages fast corners and heavy braking zones, which brings its own unique challenges to drivers and teams alike.

Notable points of the track

One of the most infamous sections of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is the“Wall of Champions”. Positioned at the exit of turn 14, this notorious wall has claimed a string of victims through the years, including multiple world champions, hence its nickname. The wall shot to notoriety at the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix when a trio of F1 world champions – home favourite Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill – all crashed into the wall and were forced to retire their cars due to irreparable damage.

What is the race lap record?

The present-day race lap record for the current Gilles Villeneuve F1 circuit was set by former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas in 2019. His time of 1:13.078 smashed the record of the previous circuit layout (used between 1996-2001) by more than four whole seconds. That’s a very long time in F1 terms!

Why is the pit exit so notorious?

The pit exit of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of the most challenging on the F1 calendar. That’s because, unlike most other circuits, the pit exit directs cars into the midst of turn 1 as opposed to a straight. This has led to a host of issues for drivers through the years at turn 1, where a new run-off wall was installed in 2023. One of the most notable issues came in 2005 when Juan Pablo Montoya was black-flagged for rejoining the track despite a red light being active at the end of the pit lane. Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella both suffered the same fate in 2007.

Perhaps the biggest drama came in 2008 when another red light came unexpectedly at the end of the pit lane. Force India’s Adrian Sutil had crashed, causing the leading group to head for the pits. Kimi Raikkonen came to a stop at the end of the pit straight but Lewis Hamilton, who was just behind him, did not realise he’d come to a standstill and ended up ploughing into the back of the Finn’s Ferrari.

Why is starting in pole position such a good omen?

As of last year, 20 out of 41 races have been clinched by drivers starting from pole position, giving them a better than 50% chance of success when at the front of the grid. In addition, the polesitter had finished on the podium 26 times out of 41 races too, suggesting it’s not an easy circuit for drivers to make lots of headway.

The drivers with the most Canadian Grand Prix wins are Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. The pair have seven race wins apiece, with Brazilian Nelson Piquet the next most successful driver in Montreal with three race wins. Both Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen have two race wins and they’re in great company, alongside the likes of Ayrton Senna and Jackie Stewart.