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Why does the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada have a Wall of Champions?

Why does the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada have a Wall of Champions?

16-06-2022 17:01


The Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal is a fast and exciting race. The circuit is known for "The Wall of Champions" and although the Grand Prix has been around since 1978, the so-called Wall of Champions only came into existence in 1999. How does the wall after the last chicane on the circuit get its name?

The Wall of Champions of F1

When you are almost finished with a lap on the Canadian circuit and drive the long straight to start/finish, you first have to go through the particularly fast final chicane. On the right hand side at the exit of this curve combination is the wall that has been called The Wall of Champions since 1999. Because the F1 cars come from high speed, brake hard, drive over the kerbstones of the tight chicane and there is no run-off lane, things often go wrong just before the finish line.

Three champions in one race

The name "The Wall of Champions" came about because at the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix, no fewer than three world champions clashed with the wall in the race. It started with Damon Hill, the 1996 champion, who lost his Jordan and slammed the back end into the wall. Further down the straight, the yellow car came to a stop. The second driver to be grazed by The Wall of Champions was Michael Schumacher, the 1994 and 1995 champion.

1999 was one of the German's worst years. Hill's Jordan had not yet been cleared away and Schumacher too put his Ferrari hard into the wall. There was no longer any way for the driver to continue. His brother Ralf Schumacher lost his Williams in the same way into the wall during practice that weekend. The third champion to lose his car in the "champion's wall" during the 1999 race was Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 champion.

Villeneuve, the son of the 1982 Gilles Villeneuve after whom the circuit is also named, also lost his car in the final chicane. Unlike the other two champions, the Canadian hit the wall at an angle with the front of his car during his home race. Villeneuve never managed to win his home race. His father Gilles Villeneuve did in 1978.

Which champion will be the next victim?

Still The Wall of Champions is a trap for many a driver. After 1999 it was not just three champions who hit the wall and threw their race away. Jenson Button also went off against the wall in 2005, although it must be said that Button did not have a championship in his pocket at that point. The fifth champion to hit the wall was Sebastian Vettel in 2011, who was the reigning world champion at the time. The German still managed to capture his second championship that year.

Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso will have to watch out in the final corner of the circuit this weekend if they want to avoid being the next name on the championship wall. The Wall of Champions can be seen in the video footage below from the 1999 race.

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