While you’ll find that most circuits are named after the environment, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is the exception to the rule. Built in 1978, the circuit was originally known as the Île Notre-Dame Circuit. However, the name was changed in 1982 to honor Canadian racing legend Gilles Villeneuve, who was killed in an accident during that year’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The circuit itself is located on Notre-Dame Island, an artificial landmass along the St. Lawrence River in Montreal, Quebec. Before being turned into an F1 circuit, the land was originally known as Parc Jean-Drapeau, named after the mayor of Montreal; he was responsible for Expo 67, where the 1967 World’s Fair would briefly stop. To this day, it is one of the few Formula 1 circuits built on an island.
While the circuit isn’t home to iconic corners like Spa’s Eau-rouge or Monza’s Parabolica, it’s home to something else. The wall of champions. Yes, it’s little more than a wall, but it flanks one of the most difficult parts of the circuit, a high-speed chicane – a fast left-right or right-left combination of curves – that leads directly to the main road. To provide some perspective, the list of F1 champions who have left their mark on the Wall of Champions includes Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel.
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