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Vilardo: 2023 Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix Preview

The track at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is now the fifth-most visited F1 venue

Posted on June 15, 2023

  By Stephen Vilardo, SWS | Dane Miller, Series Editor

Formula 1 makes its second trip to the Western Hemisphere this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix.

This is the 42nd running of the race in Montreal at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and the track is now the fifth-most visited F1 venue.

Only Spa-Francorchamps, Silverstone, Monaco, and Monza have been visited more.

I preview the Canadian Grand Prix here and the picks of our Formula 1 writers and broadcasters appear at the bottom.

Television Schedule

Free Practice 1: Friday, 10:30 am PT, ESPN2
Free Practice 2: Friday, 2:00 pm PT, ESPN2
Free Practice 3: Saturday, 9:30 am PT, ESPN2
Qualifying: Saturday, 1:00 pm PT, ESPN2
Race: Sunday, 11:00 am PT, ABC

Canadian Grand Prix Quick Facts

Location: Montreal, Quebec
Track: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Track Type: Semi-Permanent Circuit
Turns: 14
Lap Length: 2.7 miles
Race Length: 70 laps
Fastest Lap: Valtteri Bottas 1:13.078 in a Mercedes, 2019
Qualifying Record: Sebastian Vettel 1:10.240 in a Ferrari, 2019
Most Wins by Constructor: 12 – Ferrari
Most Wins by a Driver: 7 – Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton

There are plenty of opportunities to overtake in Canada.

With much higher average speeds, long straights, and plenty of heavy braking areas, the circuit produces many passing zones.

The track offers some of the highest-speed straights of the season while simultaneously producing some of the tightest turns.

This makes it a very tough track on brakes, an issue that the teams always have to look out for.

The circuit itself is a semi-permanent track with smooth asphalt. The layout uses roads in a park that are open to the public for recreational activities during the rest of the year.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve |

This means that the circuit is especially “green” and slippery at the start of the weekend, with a high degree of track evolution as the surface gets rubbered in.

Track evolution, traction, and braking all rank 5 out of 5 on the Pirelli scale.

On the flip side, asphalt grip, downforce, and lateral load on the tires rank 1 out of 5 on the same scale.

In other words, Montreal has heavy traction and braking demands on a rapidly-evolving surface. The heavy braking, along with the lack of downforce the team’s run, will make traction and grip extremely important.

With so much emphasis on traction and braking, getting heat into the front tires is part of the challenge. There is not much run-off area, either.

Safety cars are a reasonably common occurrence, which can dramatically affect strategy in the middle of the race.

Canadian Grand Prix pits |

The pit delta is around 18.5 seconds, forcing the race strategists to be on their toes in the event a safety car does come out.

The weekend could see some organically differing strategies, too, as tire wear on the softest compound will be high. Brake wear and tire degradation could affect each team differently.

In fact, Montreal is one of the most severe tracks for brake wear on the calendar. The circuit offers the heaviest brake loads of the season, particularly on the front stretch chicane at the end of the lap.

About 60% of the lap is run at full throttle, but the driver applies high amounts of brake pressure each lap. The G-Force of the Turn 13/14 chicane is an astonishing 5.6G’s, as speeds will drop from 210mph down to 75mph.

In theory, the track should benefit a car like Ferrari.

Yet, Red Bull has been so dominant this season that another Max Verstappen victory is expected.

Speed Points

• The Canadian Grand Prix has been won from pole 20 times (48.8 percent of the races).

• Eight of the last 13 races in Canada have been won from the pole.

• Lewis Hamilton has won the race seven times, including four of the last six.

• Of the last 18 Canadian Grand Prix, nine have been won by a margin of less than three seconds.

• Of the last 22 Canadian Grand Prix, 14 have been interrupted by Safety Car periods (63.6 percent).

• Montreal sees the drivers make 50 gear changes per lap.

• Max Verstappen has finished first or second in every race this season.

• Red Bull has led 401 of a possible 417 laps this season.

• Red Bull cars have led every lap of the last three consecutive races – the last team to do that was Mercedes in 2020.

Recent Winners at Montreal

2022Max VerstappenRed Bull
2019Lewis HamiltonMercedes
2018Sebastian VettelFerrari
2017Lewis HamiltonMercedes
2016Lewis HamiltonMercedes
2015Lewis HamiltonMercedes

Our Writers’ Race Picks

—More from Stephen Vilardo—