The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is situated on the Ile Notre Dame, a man-made island in the St Lawrence River in Montreal. The track is named after the legendary Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve, who won the inaugural Canadian Grand Prix at the track in 1978 and was killed at Zolder four years later.
The track is the first high-speed circuit of the 2012 season. The cars exceed 300kph on four occasions around the lap and in order to maximise straight-line speed, they run as little aerodynamic downforce as possible. That makes the cars relatively unstable under braking, which is one of the reasons why there have been more accidents at this race than any other.
In the last 10 years there have been 14 Safety Car periods, with five of them coming during last year’s wet-dry race. Four of the six world champions on this year’s grid have crashed heavily at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
“I really enjoy the Canadian Grand Prix,” says Mark Webber. “It’s an interesting track and the atmosphere is always fantastic because the people in Montreal really enjoy their racing. The city grinds to a halt over grand prix weekend, which is as it should be.”
Pirelli will supply the teams with their soft and super-soft tyres, which are the same compounds it took to Monaco. The higher speeds of Montreal will take more out of the rubber, which should turn the race into more of a strategic tyre wear battle than was the case in the Principality two weeks ago.
Lap length: 4.361km
Race distance: 305.270km
Start time: 1400 (local)
Full throttle: 67%
Downforce level: Medium
Gearchanges per lap: 52
Top speed: 315km/h
Tyre compounds: super soft / soft
Overtaking places: Turns 1, 3, 10, 13
2011 winner: Jenson Button (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes)
2011 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)
Lap record: Rubens Barrichello, 1m13.622s (213.246km/h) in 2004
Mark Webber’s best result in Canada: 3rd
Sebastian Vettel’s best result in Canada: 2nd
Daniel Ricciardo’s best result in Canada: N/A
Jean-Eric Vergne’s best result in Canada: N/A