A history of the Canadian Grand Prix

Canada first joined the F1 calendar in 1967, after six years of non-championship races, the inaugural race was won by Jack Brabham at Mosport Park. Because of the rivalry between English and French-speaking Canada, the event rotated between the Ontario-based Mosport Park and Mont-Tremblant in Quebec.

However, after only sixteen of forty entrants of the 1968 and 1970 races finished the race, Mont-Tremblant was deemed too dangerous and the event was permanently moved to Mosport Park, until it found a new home in Montreal in 1978.

Montreal hosted the 1978 season finale on a road circuit on the Notre Dame Island, home to the 1967 World Fair. Fittingly, the race was won by home favourite, Gilles Villeneuve, his first ever grand prix victory. Following Villeneuve's fatal accident in qualifying at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix, the circuit was renamed in his honour. No other Canadian has ever won their home grand prix.

The 1982 race, just a month after Villeneuve's death, was also marred by tragedy, when Italian driver Riccardo Paletti died of his injuries after crashing into the stalled Ferrari of Didier Pironi on the start line.

There was no race in 1987 due to a sponsorship dispute between local breweries Labatt and Molson. When the event returned in 1988, the start line had been moved to its current location. In the modern era the event has been dominated by Michael Schumacher, who won the race seven times between 1994 and 2004. In 2001 Schumacher finished second behind his brother, Ralf, to record the first sibling 1-2 finish in the history of the sport.

In 2005 the Canadian Grand Prix was the third most-watched sporting event in the world, with 51million viewers behind the Super Bowl and the UEFA Champions League.

Montreal poses a unique threat to the drivers, as groundhogs have been known to attempt to cross the track. In 2007 Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson had been in the running for his first points when he struck a creature at high speed and was forced to pit to repair the damage to his front wing. He eventually finished 11th, in what was rookie Lewis Hamilton's first victory.

In 2009 the event was dropped from the F1 calendar for the first time since 1987; it was also the first time an F1 calendar did not feature a race in North American for over fifty years, but after lengthy negotiations between the race organisers and Bernie Ecclestone, the Canadian Grand Prix is back on the provisional calendar for 2010

Claire Furnell

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