Canadian Grand Prix
The very first Canadian Grand Prix, was held in Canada in the year 1967. The Formula One race took place at the Mosport Park circuit that is located in Bowmanville (Ontario). The Canadian Grand Prix used to be alternated, with Mont Tremblant (Quebec) being the alternative circuit. Unfortunately, due to concerns with regard to safety, the Grand Prix moved to Mosport permanently, in 1971. Currently, the Grand Prix takes place at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Ile Notre-Dame (Montreal), which became the home of the Canadian Grand Prix in 1978. This exciting race attracts thousands of spectators, with many more catching the action on their television screens. In 2005, it was reported that Fomula One racing is the third most watched sport in the world. The race is a length of 70 laps, and a total of 305.27 kilometers.
The very first Canadian Grand Prix winner, at the new location in Montreal, was Gilles Villeneuve. He was native to Quebec, but died tragically on a qualifying lap, during the Belgian Grand Prix, in 1982. Villeneuve was honored a few weeks later, with the Montreal race course being named the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. With the start of the 1982 Canadian Grand Prix already clouded by the memory of Gilles Villeneuve, it proved to be the scene of another very tragic event. Didier Pironi, the teammate of Gilles Villeneuve, had stalled his car on the grid. The stationary Pironi, was clipped by Raul Boesel and his car was then hit from behind by Riccardo Paletti. Paletti’s car had briefly caught alight, and Pironi and Sid Watkins, the F1 doctor, frantically struggled to free Paletti from his car. It took a half hour to get Paletti out of the wreck, who was then flown to a hospital. Unfortunately, Paletti did not survive, due to the severity of his injuries.
Another significant accident took place at the Canadian Grand Prix in 1997, stopping the race a few laps in. Olivier Panis broke his legs during this incident that caused him to sit on the sidelines for nine race meetings. Many have said that this was the turning point in Olivier Panis’s career, and a heartbreaking time for the winner of the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was once again in the limelight in 1996, when former world champions Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill all crashed into a wall that read: ‘Bienvenue au Quebec’ or in English it reads ‘Welcome to Quebec’. The wall was to become known as the ‘Wall of Champions’. Ricardo Zonta, the then reigning champ, also collided with the wall.
The Canadian Grand Prix did not make it onto the F1 schedule for 2004. A maximum of seventeen races was implemented, new venues came to the forefront, and the new tobacco legislation saw the cancellation of sponsors. For a while it appeared that the Formula One would not be returning to Canada in the forseeable future. However, on November 27, 2009 it was announced that a five-year contract had been signed between all the relevant authorities, ensuring that the race would take place in Canada from 2010-2014 – much to the delight of local Formula One racing fans.