F1 2019: Canadian Grand Prix Track Guide
Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of the fastest laps in F1, here’s how to master the track!
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has played host to the Canadian Grand Prix since 1978, the year when the man who the track is named after won the event. The layout of the circuit has remained almost the same through the last 40 years, with the chicanes on the back-straight being the sole alterations. The track is entirely made up of entirely public roads, making it a street circuit, but it’s a polar opposite to Monaco. The track is made up of long straights separated by chicanes like Monza, but not on the same level in terms of top speed.
Turn 1 & Virage Senna
The first of Canada’s corners comes quickly after the start/ finish line, so be sure to stick to the right after the kink in the road. You’ll be arriving at almost 200mph (320kph) and need to start braking at the 100m on the right down to fourth gear. The first two corners follow a DRS straight, so overtaking is possible here, but it is difficult. Swing to the left and clump over the inside kerb, there’s little punishment for doing so here.
Turn 2 follows immediately after and the tighter line is the faster line but avoid the inside kerbing. You’ll need to be down to second gear for this one, so start braking once more when the car has been straightened up after T1. Traction can be difficult out of T2, so be careful when getting back on the throttle and don’t be afraid to use some kerb on exit either.
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Turns 3 & 4
Be as far to left as possible going into Turn 3, but avoid the grass at all costs. Brake starting at about 75m down to fifth gear and use plenty of inside kerb, but don’t go over the solid red zone. It’s very tempting to cut over the grass for Turn 4, but don’t, as it will invalidate your lap in time trial/ qualifying.
Getting on the power early through these chicanes is the key to fast lap times and you can do so a lot earlier than you expect here. This chicane is an overtaking opportunity but not one of the main ones around here, as it’s tight on the exit.
As Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel found out this year, though, it’s far from straightforward to get past.
In the dry, Turn 5 is an easy flat right-hander that won’t give you any trouble, but stay close to the wall on the right, as Turn 6 follows straight after. The back section of the Canada track is a bit like most of the Australian circuit, as chicanes break up long flat out zones. You need to brake just after the 100m board down to third gear for Turn 6. Avoid the inside kerb here, it’ll unsettle the car going through Turn 7 and could land you a penalty.
You’ll probably have to feather the throttle or lift going through T7, depending on your car/ setup. Make sure you don’t run wide, though, as the unforgiving barriers are looming on the outside. The second DRS Zone is just after the exit of this corner, too, so good traction is key down here.
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Thanks to the DRS, this is a decent overtaking opportunity if you can get down the inside, going around the outside is difficult here. This chicane is the fastest on the track, being taken at fifth gear and you have to get on the anchors just after the 100m board, or when you go under the bridge.
Treat the orange inside kerbs like lava, you’ll almost certainly get a penalty for putting a wheel over them in time trial. Like Turns 3 and 4, get on the power as soon as you pass over the first corner of the chicane, you should be revving out sixth gear on exit.
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L’Epingle & T11
You’ll be arriving in top gear and at almost 200 mph, this is the heaviest braking zone on the circuit, which makes it a good overtaking opportunity. Doing so isn’t a big penalty, either, despite the two DRS zones following it, as the DRS detection is before the hairpin.
Decelerate down to second gear after braking from the 100m board and aim for the apex, but it’s not an issue if you miss it, as a wide line helps your straight line speed. Be careful when applying the throttle out of Turn 10 too, there isn’t a huge amount of grip on the exit. Turn 11 is a kink on the exit of the hairpin that won’t cause you any trouble.
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Wall of Champions
Coming at the end of the longest straight on the track, this is the main overtaking opportunity on track. Like most of the chances, though, it is difficult as fitting two cars through the chicane is a tight squeeze. You’ll be arriving at 210mph (338kph) and need to brake at the 100m board down into fifth gear. All that’s required is a simple right then left on the steering wheel to get through, it looks scarier than it is.
Like the 8-9 chicane, avoid the orange kerbing, it’ll unsettle the car and possibly send you into the Wall of Champions on the exit. Use some run-off on exit if you have to, but I tend to avoid it, as it’s playing with fire and can harm your traction.
And if you’re wondering why it’s called the “Wall of Champions” this video does a good job of showing you why it earned that nickname.
Despite the long straights, you need downforce to keep the car stable through the quicker chicanes. I went with 3/7 front/rear, as turn in isn’t as important as rear stability. Traction is key out of the slower corners, so the differential needs to be locked, I went with 90% on-throttle and close to 100% off-throttle. Tyre wear isn’t an issue around here as long as you’re not too aggressive through the fast corners, so set the camber as high as you dare with the toe as low as you can go.
Suspension has to be soft, as the kerbs are harsh here and you’ll need to use them, I opted for 2 on both the front and rear. Conversely, the anti-roll needs to be stiff in order to keep the car balanced. Ride height is low to aid straight line speed, with about 4 for front and rear.
There are some big stopping zones, so brake pressure has to be high at around 85% with a bias of 52%. Rear tyre pressure has to be low to preserve them, as they do the bulk of the work around here, 20.3psi for the rear and 23.0 psi on the front.