Montreal Grand Prix Track Layout: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

Montreal Grand Prix track layout

The Montreal Grand Prix track layout runs around a small island called Notre Dame Island in the middle of the St Lawrence River in downtown Montreal, Canada.

The track is officially called Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and is a street circuit. This article looks in detail at the layout of the Canadian Formula 1 circuit and provides all the information you need to know before the racing begins.

Contents

Montreal Grand Prix circuit history

Notre Dame Island (officially  Île Notre-Dame) is man made and sits in the middle of the St Lawrence River in downtown Montreal. It was built for the 1967 International expo and after that had finished, the idea was formed to turn it in to a race circuit.

On the island is a park called Parc Jean-Drapeau. Within the park were a number of access roads and these were used as a race track. The circuit was originally given the name Île Notre-Dame Circuit when it was finished in 1978.

The first race was held later in 1978 and was won by the home hero Gilles Villeneuve driving for Ferrari. Having a Canadian win the inaugural Formula 1 race on the new circuit was great for the race organisers and local fans.

That was unfortunately the only time Gilles Villeneuve would win his home Grand Prix. He was killed during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder in 1982.

Shortly after his death in 1982 the circuit was renamed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in his honour. ‘Salut Gilles’ is painted on the start / finish line of the circuit as an eternal message to the much loved and missed driver.

Salut Gilles” by Nic Redhead is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve layout history

Ever since the race was first held on this circuit in 1978, the track layout has only ever had very minor revisions.

With the circuit already using the perimeter roads on the small Notre Dame island, there’s a limit to how much the layout can be changed.

Below is the circuit layout that was used from 1978 to 1993. As the map shows, back then the circuit had 17 corners.

In 1994 and 1995 in a bid to slow the cars down along the Casino straight a small chicane was put in just after the hairpin.

The Montreal Grand Prix track layout below shows this chicane in place at turns 13, 14 and 15.

In 1996 both the chicane and the turns at Casino were removed. That resulted in a flat out straight from the exit of the Hairpin all the way until the final chicane. This is now known at the Casino Straight.

This layout has remained unchanged and is still used to this day.

F1 Montreal Route

The Canadian Grand Prix track is squeezed on to Notre Dame Island and is surrounded by water on most sides.

You don’t really get an idea of this when you watch the Formula 1 coverage. It’s only when you look at the circuit from above that you see how crammed in to the island it is.

Below is the F1 Montreal route overlaid on top of Notre Dame Island.

How long is the Canadian Grand Prix track?

The current Canadian Grand Prix track layout is 4.361km / 2.71 miles long. It takes around 1 minute 27 seconds for a Formula 1 car to complete a lap when it’s dry.

The race distance at the Canadian Grand Prix is 70 laps longer, meaning the drivers cover a total of 305km / 189 miles during the race.

Longest straight on Montreal Grand Prix track layout

The longest straight on the Canadian GP track is the Casino Straight between turns 12 and 13. The distance is 691 metres.

Turns 11 and 12 are actually just small kinks and in reality the F1 cars are flat out from when they exit the Hairpin at turn 10.

The total distance from the exit of Turn 10 to Turn 13 is 1.16km. Formula 1 cars can reach over 300kph / 186kph by the time they have to brake for Turn 13, and will go even faster with DRS enabled.

DRS Zones

There are 3 DRS Zones on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Read our article on the Canadian Grand Prix DRS zones for full details on these.

Sectors

The Montreal Grand Prix track layout is split in to three different sectors. The boundary between each of these sectors is shown on the circuit map below.

S1 is the boundary between sectors 1 and 2 and is located 145 metres before turn 6 on the Canadian Grand Prix circuit.

S2 is the boundary between sectors 2 and 3 and is located 190 metres before turn 10, adjacent to Grandstand 34.

The start / finish line acts as the boundary between sectors 3 and 1. When cars cross the finish line they end sector 3 and complete their lap, before starting the next lap at the beginning of sector 1.

Pit lane

The pit lane entry at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is on the left-hand side of Turn 13. Rather than turning right in to the fast part of the final chicane the cars can stay to the left. They can go straight ahead and join the start of the pit lane.

The pit garages are after a short right-left kink in the pit lane and are directly opposite Grandstand 1 at the Montreal GP. The speed limit in the pitlane is 80kph / 50mph.

Once the cars exit the pitlane they rejoin the track on the outside of Turn 2 at Senna Curve.

The total length of the Canadian Grand Prix circuit pit lane is 741 metres from the point where it leaves the track to the point where it rejoins.

Is the Montreal Grand Prix track layout good for overtaking?

Formula 1 races at the Canadian Grand Prix are rarely boring. The weather in Quebec is very changeable and can often spice things up and have a big effect on the race.

The circuit layout is also pretty good for overtaking. The tight hairpin is a naturally great overtaking spot right in front of fans in the Lance Stroll Grandstand and a number of other stands.

The DRS zone before Turn 13 allows lots of overtaking to happen at the end of the lap in to the final chicane. Passing here is tricky to get right and often drivers will overshoot the chicane and have to run off the track.

Fastest laps

Formula 1 cars go a lot quick in qualifying that during the race at the Montreal GP. Check out our article on the Canadian Grand Prix fastest laps for full info on the lap records around here.

Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport travel guides based on my experience as racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who are planning on watching some racing themselves.

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