Canadian Grand Prix: Montreal provides 'an enjoyable lottery'

Canadian GP

After two successive races in Europe, Formula 1 heads to one of the most popular destinations on the calendar - the Canadian Grand Prix.

Universally loved by drivers and fans alike, Montreal rarely delivers anything less than an enthralling race and a non-stop weekend of celebration.

Red Bull lead both the drivers' and constructors' championships but have never won in Montreal, while McLaren - whose season is yet to get going - have ruled the race for the last three years.

Excitement and unpredictability best describe what to expect for this weekend, while the possibility of rain only adds spice to what is to come.

The track

The Formula 1 drivers' first outing on the 4.361km circuit on Friday will mark a welcome change of pace from the tight and twisty streets of Monaco last time out.

High-speed straights and tight, slow corners take their toll on brake wear but, with four occasions when a car can top 300km per hour, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve's layout provides one of the shortest lap times on the Formula 1 calendar.

The design of the circuit has also resulted in plenty of first-lap incidents in the past, with cars bottlenecked through a tight channel straight out of the starting grid.

Then there is the Wall of Champions - so called for being the scene of a number of crashes involving world champions. In 1999, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher all hit the wall at the final corner, while Sebastian Vettel crashed there in Friday practice in 2011.

There are two DRS zones. The first is 55m before Turn 12, while the second is after Turn 14.

The venue

Located on the man-made island of Ile Notre Dame and set against the backdrop of Montreal, the track is a semi-permanent circuit, with the area around the pits solely used for racing, while the rest is open to road traffic during the summer months.

Few cities embrace the arrival of Formula 1 as much as Montreal, with roads packed with pedestrians throughout the weekend as countless parties, street festivals and concerts take place.

Up to 100,000 spectators descend on Montreal for a weekend of fun and thrilling racing.

What the drivers say

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton: "The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve has been a strong circuit for me and I've been lucky enough to win there three times in my career, including last season. It's always a great weekend in Montreal with a fun atmosphere in the city and at the track. The circuit itself is really special; it's very high-speed, great fun to drive and it's definitely a track where late braking helps."

Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen: "I have won (in Canada) which was pretty good, but I have experienced some setbacks there as well. Many times the race has been quite a lottery as there seem to be different things which affect it. The weather can change a lot, sometimes the tyres or the track aren't working very well, sometimes there are a lot of safety cars."

McLaren driver Jenson Button: "Like Monaco, the Canadian Grand Prix can be something of an enjoyable lottery - but whereas Monaco is a low-speed, high-grip place, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is the opposite: high-speed and low-grip. It's a mix that always comes together to provide the fans with great racing."

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel: "The circuit has a nice rhythm and it's one of the best races we have all year. The atmosphere and fans are great, the whole city lives F1 for the whole week and that makes us feel very special."

Caterham driver Charles Pic: "Last year was my first time racing in Canada and I have to say it was one of the best races of the year, maybe not so much for the final result but for the atmosphere on track, which was really good. We go to a few races where the track is full of fans from Thursday morning, and Montreal is one of those. I guess having Jacques and Gilles Villeneuve as locals to have supported in the past means F1 is very special to fans in Montreal, but whatever the reasons, they love F1!"

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas: "This will be my first time driving at Montreal and I'm looking forward to the challenge. It's similar to the last race in Monaco in some respects, being a street circuit with a number of the corners and straights very close to the walls. I'm particularly looking forward to the last corner, the wall of champions, which is very iconic."

A classic Canadian GP

Montreal has been a happy hunting ground for McLaren, with the team having won there on 13 previous occasions.

Highlights - Canadian Grand Prix 2011

One of the most memorable victories, however, has to be at a rain-soaked and action-packed 2011 Canadian Grand Prix.

Jenson Button pulled off a sensational win by passing Sebastian Vettel on the last lap of a long but absorbing race.

Wet weather, dry weather, safety cars, collisions and spins - the race had it all as Button battled through the field from last to first - overcoming a collision with his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton to snatch victory from Vettel's grasp.

Vettel had led a four-hour epic from start to almost finish, but was undone when approaching a corner in the final lap, applying too much pressure on the brakes and allowing Button to sneak past and claim a first win in 14 months.