The Hairpin (L'Epingle) on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
|Location||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Time zone||GMT −5|
|Owner||Ville de Montréal|
|Former names||Île Notre-Dame Circuit (1978–1982)|
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
|Length||4.361 km (2.71 mi)|
|Lap record||1:13.622 ( Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004)|
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a motor racing circuit in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is the venue for the FIA Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. It has previously hosted the FIA World Sportscar Championship, the Champ Car World Series, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
The Canadian Grand Prix that took place for 30 years at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was dropped from the 2009 Formula One calendar and replaced with the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. On November 27, 2009, Quebec's officials and Canadian Grand Prix organisers announced a settlement with Formula One Administration and signed a new five-year contract spanning the 2010–2014 seasons. The 2011 edition took place on June 12 at 1:00pm (17:00 GMT) and was the longest World Championship Grand Prix ever, due to a lengthy rain delay.
The circuit, at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Notre-Dame, a man-made island in the St. Lawrence River that is part of the city of Montreal, was originally named the Île Notre-Dame Circuit. It was renamed in honour of Canadian Formula One driver Gilles Villeneuve, father of Jacques Villeneuve, following his death in 1982. The venue hosted the Champ Car World Series Grand Prix of Montreal from 2002 to 2006.
Barriers run close to the circuit and many experienced drivers have been caught out by them. A particularly famous part of the circuit is the wall on the outside of the exit of the final chicane before the start/finish straight. In 1999 the wall, which bears the name Bienvenue au Québec ("Welcome to Quebec") giving it the nickname "Mur du Québec" (Quebec Wall), ended the race of three Formula One World Champions, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve along with FIA GT champion Ricardo Zonta. Since then the wall has been nicknamed "The Wall of Champions". In recent years 2009 world champion Jenson Button (2005) and 2010 World Champion Sebastian Vettel (2011) have also fallen victim to the wall. Juan Pablo Montoya (2006) and Vitantonio Liuzzi (2007) have also crashed there, while in 2010, Kamui Kobayashi also collided with the wall.
Changes made in 2005 to the curbs on the final chicane were controversial amongst drivers in the run-up to the Grand Prix. The curbs were made higher and more difficult for the drivers to see, making it even more challenging.
On June 23, 2006, the Canadian Press reported that the city of Montreal has awarded exclusive rights to stage the two allowed race weekends on the track to Normand Legault, promoter of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. The deal is for 2007 to 2011, with an option for 2012 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, respectively – the latter series' first race north of the Canada-United States border. On August 4, 2007, Kevin Harvick made history by winning the first NASCAR Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in what was one of the most controversial NASCAR races ever, as Robby Gordon claimed to have won the race.
The NASCAR races have affected the circuit layout. An expansion of the pit lane took place, since a NASCAR pit lane must accommodate a minimum of 43 cars.
As part of Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Circuit is open to visitors, between races, for walking, running, biking, in-line skating, and of course, driving. 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. However, on June 4, 2009, administration of Île Notre-Dame has forbidden the access of competitive cyclists to the circuit, justifying this as a security measure to avoid the increasing injuries that occurred between year 2008 and 2009. A total of 27 injuries have been reported. The ban on cyclists has since been lifted due to protests.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2013)|
There is a slight right kink before turn 1 and you have to brake roughly 50 metres from the apex, downshifting from seventh to third gear. Turn 2 (Virage Senna) follows immediately after - one more downshift is required for the slow right-hander and a late apex can be useful for a good exit. Turns 3 and 4 are quite tricky - a good line is key - riding the kerbs and going within inches of the wall is important for a fast time. The chicane itself is a right-left taken in third gear Turn 5 is a flat-out right-hander which leads to turns 6 and 7. Again, a good line is vital and the kerbs need to be ridden well here. It is a left-right chicane taken in second gear and leads onto the backstraight. Turns 8 and 9 make up yet another chicane, and are very similar to turns 3 and 4 - a right-left taken in second gear where cars run as close to the barrier as possible to maximize exit speed. Turn 10 (L'Epingle) is a tight, first gear right-hand hairpin and taking a "V" line can be good to maximise speed down the following straight. Turns 13 and 14 are perhaps the most famous corners at the circuit - yet another chicane that requires plenty of kerb use and a line that takes you close to the wall, the corners are well known for catching out many drivers on the exit wall named the 'Wall of Champions'. To avoid this, you have to make sure you don't clout the kerbs too hard and if you feel like you are going to understeer into one, take to the escape road. The turns themselves, a right-left chicane, are taken in third gear after a heavy braking zone.
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, Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya set pole position for the 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.
In 2006, the latest and currently last time Champ Car and F1 ran on the same track, Formula One was 5 to 7 seconds faster than Champ Car. The pole position in Formula One was set by Fernando Alonso in a time of 1:14.942, while Sébastien Bourdais set pole in 1:20.005 in Champ Car. The fastest lap in the Formula One race was 1:15.841 by Kimi Räikkönen, while Sébastien Bourdais' fastest lap was 1:22.325 in the Champ Car race.
2007 NASCAR Busch Series driver Patrick Carpentier racing in the NAPA Auto Parts 200, posted a pole time of 1:42.086. The pole time at the 2012 NAPA Auto Parts 200 was 1:40.865 by Alex Tagliani. By comparison, Carpentier's 2004 Molson Indy Montreal qualifying time in the Champ Car World Series was 1:20.836, while Sébastien Bourdais qualified with 1:20.005 in 2006.
The fastest ever lap around the circuit was set by Ralf Schumacher with a time of 1:12.275 set in the qualifying session for the 2004 Canadian Grand Prix. As this time was set during qualifying, it is not recognised as an official lap record.
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