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Your classic Canadian Grand Prix

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Andrew Benson | 06:00 UK time, Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The 1979 Canadian Grand Prix is the selected race for the latest edition of our classic races series.

That means that the full 'Grand Prix' highlights programme of the time is embedded below, as well as the shorter packages we cut for all the races we offered as choices - the 1986, 1991, 1995 and 1998 races.

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Watch the BBC's 'Grand Prix' programme from the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix

Watch short highlights of the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1986 Canadian Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1998 Canadian Grand Prix

The films will be available in the UK on satellite and cable television from 1800 BST on Wednesday 9 June until 0600 on Friday 11 June. Unfortunately, because of a lack of bandwidth owing to the tennis at Queen's the start of the World Cup and live athletics, we will be unable to offer the content on Freeview.

Canada returns to the F1 calendar after a year's absence this season, so limiting our selection to just five choices from a race that is renowned for providing plenty of thrills and spills was always going to be difficult. And, inevitably, our selection caused a fair bit of controversy among respondents on this blog.

The selection we made was aimed at providing the best possible cross-section of Canadian Grands Prix.

We thought long and hard about including Lewis Hamilton's maiden F1 victory in 2007 - a race that was characterised by an unprecedented four interventions by the safety car and a horrific crash from which Robert Kubica was lucky to emerge largely unscathed - and 2008, when Hamilton famously crashed into Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in the pit lane and Kubica took his own maiden win.

But in the end we decided that the 1998 race topped the lot in terms of Canadian craziness, and that the other four choices provided a more comprehensive round-up of the history of the race.

Rest assured, though, that we plan to cover both Kubica's crash and Hamilton's dramatic history with the Canadian race during the BBC One programmes from Montreal this weekend.

It was always going to be difficult to choose between the races we did put in our selection, and that was certainly true of respondents on this blog.

As I have said before, this is not a vote, per se - we use your views to inform the choice we make of which race to highlight.

But the 1979, 1998 and 1995 races all got more or less the same level of support from readers, and for very different reasons.

That being the case, I am going to exercise my right as the author to cast the deciding vote - and it goes for 1979.

Ultimately, the choice came down to between that and 1995 because although 1998 was by far the more dramatic race, it came during the era when ITV had the rights to broadcast F1 in the UK. And, as I have explained before, we do not have the resources to cut half-hour highlights packages of races from those years.

Out of 1995 and 1979, then the battle between Gilles Villeneuve and Alan Jones 31 years ago wins hands down in my opinion.

Although Jean Alesi's sole F1 victory in 1995 was popular, it was inherited. The race was dominated by Michael Schumacher in the Benetton until he ran into problems late in the race, gifting the win to Alesi.

Jones's victory in 1979, by contrast, was a fantastic race-long battle between two of F1's hardest, most uncompromising racers. Villeneuve ended up coming off second best, but it was undoubtedly one of the greatest ever performances by a man who some consider to be the fastest F1 driver in history.

Jones had the faster car; Villeneuve was the better driver. They respected each other immensely. And over 72 laps they fought out one of history's most intense duels.

It is a worthy selection and a suitable memory of Villeneuve as F1 latest stars prepare to do battle on the track that was named for him in the wake of his death in 1982, and where he is still worshipped today.


  • Comment number 1.

    Woo hoo!

  • Comment number 2.

    I mean brilliant. I love this old stuff. Keep up the good work Andrew.

  • Comment number 3.

    not available in your area????????

    whats the matter with BBC? i thought in this day an age with communications and broadband you would be broadcasting to the world.
    how about getting your act together and sorting this out, im sure there are a lot of F1 supporters from outside your coverage that would love to see these clips.

    McLaren was once a NZ team if you remember....

  • Comment number 4.

    Great choices Andrew, thank you.

    Regarding the BBC's lack of resources to cut a 'full program' of 40 - 50 minutes; which is highly understandable, as i'd imagine it would take someone with training and the right equipment about a day or so, have you considered asking for volunteers?

    I've seen the large quantity of responses this blog generates and there may well be regulars here with the time, equipment and willing to do it for you. what do you think?

  • Comment number 5.

    sorry modplod was just complaining about the short clips on this site are unavailable to outside viewers.

    we have no problem with the coverage of practice/qualifying/full race in NZ and it's not delayed. that is a BBC feed on our SKY TV. so yeah we can watch what you folks are seeing which is great...

  • Comment number 6.

    I know people will complain about them not being available on Freeview, but live coverage should rightly take priority, as we'd be pretty peeved if live F1 was to be ditched to show highlights from another sport. However, what I will say is I'd expect there to be some time over the course of the next few days where even if it's just at 3am, space could be found to show them, even if it's just 1 loop.

  • Comment number 7.

    Canada '95 is still my favourite F1 race. Jean Alesi was my hero back then. It doesn't seem like it was 15 years ago! Rewatching the finish now makes me wonder; when was the last time we saw one driver giving a lift to another driver on the warm down lap? Are they even allowed to anymore?

  • Comment number 8.

    Ah yes! More classic 70s F1. Looking forward to watching a couple of great drivers sparring for the win. I was only a nipper at the time, but it's still the best era for F1 hands down. Despite having the slightly inferior car, I think Gilles was talented and gifted enough to have challenged for the win driving a lawnmower round the track. Just think how he could have dominated the 80s had he not been tragically killed....

  • Comment number 9.

    Andrew, I understand the amount of work that is needed to cut a GP package from two hours down into 30 mins, and getting it all to fit, plus recording a commentary over the top.

    But maybe you could do a blog later in the year, detailing the work that goes into cutting the highlights packages, so everyone knows what is needed. There still seems to be a heated debate over it!

  • Comment number 10.

    @ lethalnz, i could be wrong on this, but i believe the reason that the clips are not available to people outside the UK, is something to do with rights to broadcast being done by country, so while the bbc have the rights to show the footage in the UK, they dont have the rights to show it in other countries (although doesnt really make sense if you can get bbc over there to watch the race footage).

    Like i say, i could be wrong and if i am im sure i'll be corrected, but the issue is not an issue with the BBC but an issue with the way the rights are handled by the governing body.

  • Comment number 11.

    "Unfortunately, because of a lack of bandwidth owing to the tennis at Queen's the start of the World Cup and live athletics, we will be unable to offer the content on Freeview."

    Or perhaps more correctly - due to the BBC's decision to reduce interactive services everywhere to make way for a limited and slow roll out of HD in some areas you are unable to offer it on Freeview.

  • Comment number 12.

    Not available in my area, but still remember it clearly. I wish we could see races like those now.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi all,

    Thanks for you comments so far; if I could just respond to a couple of the main points.

    Why can't you see these in New Zealand (or anywhere else outside the UK, for that matter)? That's because we only have the rights to broadcast F1 coverage (whether on TV, radio or online) in the UK. You may well be able to get BBC TV coverage in New Zealand (and some other territories around the world), but that is because your broadcasters have bought the rights from Formula 1, and then done a deal with the BBC to supply its coverage, which is allowed. Whether that deal includes online rights is up to the broadcasters in each territory and their contract with F1, and has nothing to do with the BBC.

    The age-old resources issue. It comes down to this. We have limited staff - the amount we can afford to have. Those people have a lot of work to do on a lot of sports, not just F1, and we have to balance resources carefully. That means difficult decisions have to be taken, and we - and you - have to accept we cannot do some things.

  • Comment number 14.

    Yeah it's a shame about no freeview coverage but having this feature is great and the coverage has been brilliant, the World Cup team have even taken your 'classic' idea Andrew ;)

  • Comment number 15.

    @12 : "Or perhaps more correctly - due to the BBC's decision to reduce interactive services everywhere to make way for a limited and slow roll out of HD in some areas you are unable to offer it on Freeview."

    Absolutely spot on.

    The removal of 302 still disgusts me. Freeview users are treated like dirt.

  • Comment number 16.

    Thanks for the choices Andrew. I'll look forward to hunching over my PC to watch these later. :-)

    I must admit, i put 301 (red Button) on this morning and knew the 'Classic F1' Freeview chances were shot down in flames when i saw the World Cup mob had nicked your 'Classic' idea and decided to loop World Cup Matches. The nerve!! And a shame thye couldn't give us 2 hours at 3am or something.

    Anyway, still love the feature (and the world cup incidentally), and hope that although you often get a hard time from posters on this blog, you decide to make it a hat-trick and keep this feature for a 3rd year, next year. Even with a reduced selection of 3 races for each round, there's still enough classic remaining.

    Looking forward to this 'Herman Tilke free' weekend at a Classic Track!

  • Comment number 17.

    1986 was terrific!

    From what Andrew described a dominant win and therefore expecting to bored senseless - it was anything but!

  • Comment number 18.

    thanks for the reply Andrew.

    love the site by the way, great bunch of mad petrol heads you have here.

    they don't all agree with each other but they all have a point of view.

    keep up the great work, Formula one rocks...

  • Comment number 19.

    Villeneuve a better driver? Hmm not sure about that! How can you establish that argument?

  • Comment number 20.

    Many thanks Andrew - Your casting vote was used wisely, I think.

    Great to see some prolonged footage of the great Gilles - too often on other races featured he's been tucked away back in the pack in a hopeless car or seen spinning off early on.

    He may have been beaten by Jones this time, but made an unbeleivable fight of it against superior machinery- what a Racer!

  • Comment number 21.

    Yeah agree with swerve1, would be good to get them on 301, but even to see these great races shown on the web is amazing and so much better than what ITV ever did.

    Having only read about the great races in the 70's to actually see them is brilliant, and if we cant get them on freeview - well I dont mind hunching over the pc for a while!

  • Comment number 22.

    That was fab. Great to see the chat at the end with Murray and James Hunt discussing Nikki Lauda's, and James's own, retirement during the season. It's been a long time since he passed away but I still miss James Hunt's incisive co-commentary. I'd have loved to have heard his thoughts on the last couple of years of racing.

  • Comment number 23.

    Have to say Andrew, can't argue with your deciding vote. Although Alesi's win was inherited as you mentioned, you have to admit it was long overdue.

  • Comment number 24.

    Who's the co-commentator on the 1998 race? I'm presuming that was a weekend that Martin Brundle was away doing Le Mans (for Toyota in '98?), so who was standing in for him? I know it's not Palmer, Blundell, Allen or Jardine, so I'm having a hard time figuring out who it might be.

  • Comment number 25.

    @Bortron, if you see about 10 seconds in, it says at the bottom who is it...

    Besides Warwick commentating blows out the water BBC's argument about a certain commentator...

  • Comment number 26.

    1995 come on alesi

  • Comment number 27.

    6:38 - 7:10 Hunt's comment on track layout is priceless. It proves that some things don't change and no matter what people will always praise the past.

  • Comment number 28.

    One thing "Jones had the faster car"? Given that Scheckter won the World Championship and Villeneuve finished second and the Ferrari won more races than the Williams how exactly did Jones have the faster car. The 312T was probably the only decent F1 car Ferrari produced in the 70's and most of the 80's it certainly wasn't a dog.

    Villeneuve like Senna has attained almost mythical status in death, he was a very good driver but sometimes as in the inference in the quote in my first para, he is given more credit than in truth the feat really warrants. IMO obviously.

  • Comment number 29.

    I agree with Post 25 - I thought the BBC would only use the commentary of those employed by the BBC, so how does Derek Warwick work for the BBC then?
    Im sure that Mr Benson cannot use the ridculous rule to block the Commentary of one Certain Mr James Allen.

    Still 1998 had it all, maybe it could happen again and Im astounded to see how small gap that was between Wurz and the gravel and the fact he could have been killed had the gravel trap rolled on been a bit higher.
    Hopefully, it will be the same for 2010 :D and no 2009 race this time :D

  • Comment number 30.

    re. #27

    Ironically Canada is probably easier to over take on now than in 1979. They've got rid of the old turns 1-3 (bit of a shame, because the look good) so it's a straight run from the hairpin to the final chicane, which also looks a bit tighter nowadays.

    I'm expecting serious brake problems for some teams this weekend though. Just as tough on brakes as Bahrain, but because the walls are so close to the track the hot air has no where to go, and on-track air temps rise, making cooling very tricky.

  • Comment number 31.

    Great stuff Andrew.

    Brilliant to see the old drivers, cars and circuit layout changes, and to heartbeat very sadly-missed James Hunt. Also fun to see the "fashion"of the time! What was Murray wearing under his jacket - looked like a string vest. Was he going for the Alf Garnett look? (for overseas readers who don't know that name he was a comedy character in some old TV shows)

    A big thanks to you and all the people who put this feature together, in my view it's the best part of the BBC coverage.

    Keep up the good work, and keep using your deciding "vote" for Gilles Villeneuve races!

  • Comment number 32.

    It was just one of these things that Derek Warwick was included but I thought that Andrew would edit out his commentry like he does with James Allen. Shame that James Hunt is still not with us.

    What is anyone's favourite crash? Note: No-one who get hurt

  • Comment number 33.

    Re: Post 28.

    Ferrari won both titles in 79 by virtue of having a decent, reliable car and a bizarre points system rather than an out and out fast one. Ligier were strong at the start of the season and when Williams introduced their new car (the FW07) mid season it was by far and away the fastest, a position it retained into 1980 and it was still potential championship winnning material in 1981. The Ferrari 312T was getting long in the tooth by 79 and its flat 12 engine wasn't really suited to ground effects, as shown by the woeful T5 in 1980.

    Gilles was denied a shot at the title because of a combination of bad luck and team orders. When you see races like this, Watkins Glen, Kyalami and Zolder from the same year, not to mention his races in other seasons, it's hard to argue against Gilles being one of the fastest guys ever.

  • Comment number 34.

    I see some of you have taken issue with my observation that Gilles Villeneuve was a better driver driver than Alan Jones, and that the Williams FW07 was a faster car than the Ferrari 312T4. Interesting.

    The facts are these:

    The Williams FW07 was faster than the Ferrari 312T4 pretty much as soon as it appeared part way through the 1979 season. Clay Regazzoni took its first win at the British Grand Prix before Jones went on to win four races in the second half of the season. Ferrari drivers Jody Scheckter and Villeneuve won three races each, Scheckter taking the title partly through better consistency and maturity but also partly because Villeneuve was unluckier and because he sat behind his team-mate, obeying team orders, as Scheckter won the Italian GP.

    The only reason Jones was not world champion was because of the F1 scoring system in 1979, which split the season into two halves and counted a driver's best four scores in each half of the season. Under this system, Jones was ruled out of the title reckoning by a poor first half of the season, largely caused by unreliability. But he and Williams absolutely dominated the second, winning five of the seven races, including three on the trot for Jones in Germany, Austria and Holland.

    By this time, Ferrari were struggling because the T4 - because of the width of its flat-12 engine - could not employ full ground effect (using the underbody as a venturi to create a low-pressure area under the car), and therefore lacked grip compared to the Williams and increasingly other cars such as the Ligier.

    Generally, the only driver who kept Jones in sight during this part of the season was Villeneuve. He did it through a combination of outrageous ability - quite often Scheckter was nowhere near him - and an ability, despite his reputation as an aggressive, reckless driver, to make the softer Michelin tyres last for much longer than Scheckter. As can be seen in this video from Montreal.

    In this period, the only non-Williams wins were by Scheckter in Monza where (then as now) downforce is trimmed out, so the Ferrari was less penalised (and even then Regazzoni was right behind them in the second part of the race), and Watkins Glen at the end of the season, where Villeneuve put in one of his all-time great performances in a wet weekend. At one stage in practice he was 11 seconds faster than anyone else - including Scheckter - and he finished that session with a time 8.5 seconds faster than any other driver. Yes, you read that right, eight and a half seconds faster than anyone else.

    It is performances like that; and this one in Montreal; plus his fightback from last to third in Belgium (only to retire on the last lap having run out of fuel); his two wins in South Africa (again thanks to his sensitivity with tyres) and Long Beach; Monza 1978 (when he battled with Andretti's much faster Lotus 79 throughout the race); Monaco 1980 (five seconds faster than anyone else in the wet on slicks in the closing laps); his wins in Spain and Monaco in 1981; his qualifying lap in Monaco 1981 (when he was second on the grid behind Nelson Piquet's Brabham (widely believed to have qualified underweight), with team-mate Didier Pironi, who was no slouch, 17th and more than two seconds behind him that forged Villeneuve's reputation.

    The man was arguably the fastest racing driver of all time. Jones, good, solid, aggressive driver that he was, was just not in his league.

    Don't believe me? Try these quotes from Villeneuve's contemporaries.

    Niki Lauda, at Zolder 1982, after Villeneuve's death: "Gilles was the best - and the fastest - driver in the world."

    Alain Prost: "Gilles was the last great driver; the rest of us are just a bunch of good professionals."

    Jacques Laffite: "No human being can do miracles, you know, but Gilles made you wonder."

  • Comment number 35.

    A fair response, Andrew. Whilst I think Chad's got a point on Villeneuve's reputation exceeding his acheivements (he did spin off a bit too often for one considered so great - Clark was arguably as fast but never seemed to put a wheel wrong, compared to Gilles being almost always right on the ragged edge), and that Scheckter showed more maturity in bringing the car home to secure the championship.

    However, I find it refreshing that apparently Villeneuve didn't care too much for the title; what mattered to him most was to race - to be the fastest and to strive to be first on every occasion, even if it meant crashing out in a vain pursuit of the leader.

    I'd agree with Laffite; he did pull off miracles on enough occasions to be considered so great despite those failed attempts.

  • Comment number 36.

    Re Post #25, #29 and #32.

    Derek Warwick was part of the BBC team for the 1994 Monaco GP. He performed the duties of pit lane interviewer for that race. I seem to remember some quotes from him at the time that it was not a role that he felt comfortable with which probably explains why Tony Jardine was drafted in soon afterwards. But he could be considered as part of the BBC team.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hi, I've just tried watching Martin Brundle driving a Ferrari at Fiorano.
    Unfortunately it's been ruined by some moron pasting music all over the soundtrack.
    Who are these people who do this? Why won't they let us listen to the presenter speaking, and why won't they let us listen to the sound of the engine?
    Most of all, who do we complain to and how can we get this put right?
    Sorry to make my first post an angry one but I'm sick of having to put up with this.

  • Comment number 38.


    Thanks for the blog & a great job your doing especially taking time to write effectively, a second blog with a response to some of the comments on here.

    As always it's great to watch these races, I know freeview viewers such as myself get a bit of grief when there's something else on, but to be honest I don't mind as I'm going to read the result here so I might as well watch the races here.

    As for the territories, thanks for the response. I wanted to watch these in my lunch break but as my employers servers are located outside the licence fee area I can't. Nevermind...and on that topic, as a license fee payer it is only fair that these sort of great features are restricted to those who pay for them :)

    Thanks again Andrew & thank's for creating a spark for us blog readers every weekend where there's no GP, has the Hamilton v Button set a record for responses yet?

    Thanks again :P

  • Comment number 39.

    Oh...and great to see you left the interview with Hunt in at the end discussing Lauda's retirement. Great insight into the 'motivation' and that the drivers of that era really wanted to race for the glory, the glamour was a side plate.

    Hope to see some good choices for Valencia!

  • Comment number 40.

    WHY WHY WHY is it always Freeview viewers who lose out??? I recorded the Turkish GP Forum, which the TV EPG said was on as usual after the GP. I end up with a programme labelled "F1 Forum" but which was 60 minutes of tennis. And I see here again that we lose out? Is my license fee money less valuable than anyone elses?? ANNOYED! Rant over!

  • Comment number 41.

    Canada '79: Pretty sure this is the oldest race that the BBC has given us full highlights of. Certainly interesting from the point of view of not really knowing how much credibility the likes of Piquet for example had in 1979.

    Of course I suppose the big story at this point in time was always going to be Lauda's retirement though watching it knowing of his future comeback was a bit wierd.

  • Comment number 42.

    in 1995 alesi was absoulutely superb and i dont know how he didnt win more races. 1998 was an interesting race and Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher down the straght was classic. For Valencia will we have last years race coz i hope we dont. It was boring !!!

  • Comment number 43.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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