Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

motorsport track in Canada

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a motor racing circuit. It is the location the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
The Pit Hairpin on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Location Montreal, Québec, Canada
Time zone GMT -5
Capacity 100,000
Owner Ville de Montréal
Opened 1978
Former Names Île Notre-Dame Circuit (1978-1982)
Major Events FIA Formula One
Canadian Grand Prix
NASCAR Nationwide Series
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series

Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series
Circuit Length 4.361 km (2.71 mi)
Turns 13
Lap Record 1:13.622 (Brazil Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004)

The Canadian Grand Prix was held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for 30 years. In 2009, the race was dropped from the Formula One calendar and replaced with the new Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. On 27 November 2009, Quebec's officials and Canadian Grand Prix organisers announced an agreement with Formula One and signed a new five-year contract. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will host the Canadian Grand Prix from 2010 through the 2014 seasons.[1][2]



The circuit is located on Île Notre-Dame, a man-made island in the St. Lawrence River. It is part of the city of Montreal, was originally named the Île Notre-Dame Circuit.[3] It was renamed in honour of Canadian Formula One driver Gilles Villeneuve, following his death in 1982. Gilles is the father of Jacques Villeneuve.[4] The venue hosted the Champ Car World Series Grand Prix of Montreal from 2002 to 2006.

Bienvenue au Québec slogan on the Wall of Champions

Barriers run close to the circuit and many experienced drivers have been caught out by them. A famous part of the circuit is the wall on the outside of the exit of the final chicane. The wall has the slogan Bienvenue au Québec ("Welcome to Quebec") painted on it. It has been giving the nickname "Mur du Québec" (Quebec Wall). In 1999 the wall ended the race of three Formula One World Champions, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, and Jacques Villeneuve. FIA GT champion Ricardo Zonta also crashed into the wall. Since then the wall has been nicknamed "The Wall Of Champions". Other drivers who have crashed into the wall include Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, and Juan Pablo Montoya.

The curbs leading to the final chicane were made higher in 2005. The new curbs were more difficult for the drivers to see, making the chicane even more challenging.

On 23 June 2006, Canadian Press reported[permanent dead link] that the city of Montreal had awarded Normand Legault the right to stage the race weekends on the track. Legault is the promoter of the Formula One race. The deal run until 2011, with an option to go to 2016. Legault decided to replace the Champ Car race with races from the Grand American Road Racing Association's Rolex Series and NASCAR's Nationwide Series. This would be NASCAR's first race in Canada. On 4 August 2007, Kevin Harvick made history by winning the first Nationwide Series (then Busch Series) race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.[5]

The NASCAR races have changed the circuit layout. The pit lanes were expanded. NASCAR pit lane must handle at least 43 cars.

As part of Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Circuit is open to visitors, between races, for walking, running, biking, in-line skating, etc. During the few days of the Grand Prix, Île Notre-Dame is one of the noisiest places in Montreal. At just about any other time of the year, it is one of the quietest, being located in the middle of a river, on an island filled with greenery and animals, joggers and cyclists.

Comparison of different series at the circuit


As the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve serves as host to different racing series, it is possible to directly compare different race series' lap times.

In 2002, former Champ Car Champion Juan Pablo Montoya set pole position for the 2002 Canadian Grand Prix with a lap time of 1:12.836. Several weeks later, during the inaugural Champ Car Grand Prix of Montreal, Cristiano Da Matta set pole position with a lap time of 1:18.959.

2006 was the last year Champ Car and F1 ran on the same track. The pole position in Formula One was set by Fernando Alonso in a time of 1:14.942. Sébastien Bourdais set pole in 1:20.005 in Champ Car.

In 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series (then Busch Series) driver Patrick Carpentier set a pole time of 1:42.086. The track record for the Rolex Sports Car Series is 1:33.199 set by Scott Pruett in 2008.



  1. Canada returns to F1 championship -, 27 November 2009
  2. Montreal Grand Prix Is Back On for 2010 - The New York Times, 27 November 2009
  3. Automobile Year, 1978/79, Page 235
  4. Peter Higham, The Guinness Guide to International Motor Racing, 1995, Page 362
  5. "Harvick wins wild Busch race, but disqualified Gordon claims he won". ESPN Internet Ventures. 2007-08-05. Retrieved 2010-08-13.

Other websites


45°30′21″N 73°31′36″W / 45.50583°N 73.52667°W / 45.50583; -73.52667