F1: Five Classic Canadian Grand Prix Moments

The Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve first appeared on the Formula 1 calendar in 1978. © Automobile Club de l’Île Notre-Dame

For over 35 years, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has provided great drama and many memorable moments.

So as the F1 circus returns to Montreal for the seventh round of the championship, let’s look at five classic moments from Canada.

5: 1995 Canadian Grand Prix – Alesi finally reaches the top step

Jean Alesi in his Ferrari 412 T1 during the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix. © Rick Dikeman

Jean Alesi spent almost his whole F1 career as the ‘nearly man’, but that all changed at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix.

In Qualifying, Alesi was fifth on the grid, just behind Ferrari teammate Gerhard Berger.

Michael Schumacher’s Benetton led most of the race until Lap 57, when an electrical problem forced him to pit.

And with multiple other front runners having mechanical issues, this left Alesi to take the lead.

The Frenchman did not relinquish his advantage, and claimed his one and only career victory on his 31st birthday. It also marked the last race an F1 race was won with a V12 engine.

Even more special was the fact that Alesi used the number 27 Ferrari, which was made famous by Canadian hero, Gilles Villeneuve.

4: 2007 Canadian Grand Prix – Kubica’s horror crash

The immediate aftermath of Robert Kubica’s incident at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix. © Christinne Muschi/Reuters

Robert Kubica’s racing career is scarred by huge crashes, with his biggest F1 crash coming at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix.

The BMW Sauber driver had qualified in eighth place and was running well in the race.

But after a Safety Car restart on Lap 26, his race was about to be literally turned on its head.

On the approach to the hairpin, Kubica clipped the rear of Jarno Trulli’s Toyota. This sent Kubica onto the grass and launched the Pole towards the inside wall.

As a result, Kubica’s BMW-Sauber smashed against the wall, before rolling multiple times over the track and sent debris everywhere.

Miraculously, the Pole only suffered concussion and a sprained ankle.

Later that season, Kubica joked about the incident with a journalist afterwards, stating that he saw the accident because ‘he was there live.’

3: 2008 Canadian Grand Prix – What a difference a year makes

The BMW-Sauber of Robert Kubica on his way to a favourable win at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve in 2008. © Mark McArdle

After his horror crash the previous year, Robert Kubica came to Canada in 2008 and got his retribution.

The Pole started from second on the grid, behind McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who had claimed his maiden F1 win there in 2007.

Hamilton maintained the lead early on, but come the pit-stops, everything would change.

Both Raikkonen’s Ferrari and Kubica had jumped Hamilton in the stops, but only Kubica would leave the pit-lane.

With the red light showing at the end of the pit lane, Raikkonen and Kubica stopped to wait.

Behind them, Hamilton had not noticed the red light and wasn’t stopping. Consequently, the Brit went into the back of Raikkonen’s car, and took the pair out of the race.

This proved to be a blessing for Kubica as his main challengers were out. On the restart, Kubica passed BMW-Sauber team-mate Nick Heidfeld stormed away in the lead.

The Polish driver was unstoppable and crossed the line to take his only career victory to date. With Heidfeld in second, the team claimed a memorable 1-2 finish.

And from being upside down just the year before, Kubica couldn’t have been a better turn round.

2: 2014 Canadian Grand Prix – Riccardo’s maiden win

Daniel Ricciardo kisses the Winners’ Trophy after claiming his maiden Formula 1 win for Red Bull in Montreal. © XPB Images

Daniel Ricciardo would not have been on the list as a race winner in 2014, but the Aussie took his opportunity when it came.

That year’s race in Canada was led early on by the two Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, and looked to replicate epic battle in Bahrain.

But on Lap 35, fate intervened and both cars suffered MGU-K (Motor-Generator Unit Kinetic) failures.

The failures cost the cars significant amount of power, and meant a big drop in lap time.

The two driver managed to fight on, only for Hamilton’s brakes to fail on Lap 47 and retire.

Rosberg continued to limp on, but was quickly under threat from Ricciardo, his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel, Force India’s Sergio Perez and the Williams of Felipe Massa.

With three laps left, Ricciardo breezed past a wounded Rosberg into the final chicane to take the lead.

He would hold on to it, as the race finished under safety car, after a heavy collision occurred between Perez and Massa at Turn 1.

It was the Ricciardo’s first F1 win and the first for Red Bull in the hybrid era.

1: 2011 Canadian Grand Prix – Button overcomes all the odds
Jenson Button claims the chequered flag for McLaren at Montreal in 2011. The hectic race saw Button make six pit stops and run as low as 21st place. © The Cahier Archive

The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix may go down in history as the most action packed and dramatic race in F1 history.

With torrential rain, the race started under safety car and led to a two-hour delay.

McLaren’s Jenson Button at times just wanted to have a quiet race.

Starting from seventh on the grid, the Brit first had contact with team-mate Lewis Hamilton on Lap 26.

Hamilton retired with suspension damage, while Button continued on. However, he was awarded with a drive-through penalty for speeding under the Safety Car.

Then Button collided with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso into Turn 3, which beached the Spaniard on the curb.

After this, the former champion picked up a puncture and after his stop emerged in 21st and last place.

However, Button started charging his way back through the field as the track started drying.

And by lap 65, the Brit was has climbed all the way up to second place, and was charging after race leader Sebastian Vettel.

On the final lap, Vettel was less than a second ahead of Button, and the pressure was high.

Going into Turn 6, Vettel went wide onto the wet surface and allowed Button through to take the lead.

After six pit-stops, two collisions and being stone dead last, Button overcome all of this to claim a remarkable victory.

It was his first win since the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix and arguably one of the best in his career.