McLaren ’50 in 50′: History in Canada

McLaren have won the Canadian Grand Prix 13 times, the most of any team in the Formula One World Championship. They are tied overall on wins with Ferrari, but two of Ferrari’s victories were before the race was part of the official championship. McLaren have won the race at Mont-Tremblant, Mosport Park and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (where the race currently takes place). McLaren have also been successful at Mosport in the Can-Am series.

Denny Hulme (1968 – Mont-Tremblant)

This was the McLaren team’s third ever victory in Formula One, following Bruce McLaren’s win in Belgium and Denny Hulme’s Italian Grand Prix win. He took back-to-back victories when he won the next race as well – the Canadian Grand Prix. Hulme started in sixth place for the race with Dan Gurney, who was running in a third McLaren, the best placed for the team in fourth. Bruce himself qualified tenth. There were a number of retirements in the race including pole-sitter Jochen Rindt, championship leader Graham Hill, and Ferrari’s Chris Amon. Hulme went on to win ahead of Bruce McLaren. The result meant that Hulme moved level on points with Hill with just two races left in the championship. He ultimately finished in third place after two retirements, finishing 15 points behind Hill.

Peter Revson (1973 – Mosport Park)

McLaren’s next win in Canada came at Mosport Park with American Peter Revson at the wheel. The drivers’ championship had already been wrapped up by Jackie Stewart in Italy. Pole position was secured by Ronnie Peterson with Revson alongside him on the front row. Race day was wet and Revson lost out at the start, dropping behidn Peterson, Jody Scheckter, Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi, Stewart, and Carlos Reutemann. Peterson crashed out on lap 17 after fighting with Scheckter for second, after Lauda had taken the lead. A collision between Francois Cevert and Scheckter proved to be a lucky moment for Revson as the safety car was deployed and confusion reigned. It failed to pick up the leaders and resulted in Jackie Oliver taking the lead with Revson second and Jean-Pierre Beltoise third. In the end Revson made use of his more competitive car to take the lead and eventual victory, leading home Fittipaldi and Oliver.

Emerson Fittipaldi (1974 – Mosport Park)

It was another win at Mosport Park for McLaren in 1974, although under more normal conditions than the confusion of 1973. Emerson Fittipaldi took pole position but lost the lead at the start to Niki Lauda. Jody Scheckter, who ran third in the first half of the race, crashed just over halfway through after brake failure. Lauda also retired from the race after running over debris and this resulted in a win for Fittipaldi who had been in second. This proved crucial as, after finishing fourth at Watkins Glen two weeks later, he was crowned world champion by just three points – his Canadian victory giving him a point advantage going into the last race.

James Hunt (1976 – Mosport Park)

The race was not held in 1975 but when it returned to the calendar in 1976, James Hunt completed a hat-trick of victories for McLaren at Mosport Park. Hunt secured pole position by three tenths from Ronnie Peterson. Main championship rival Niki Lauda started in sixth place. Peterson took the lead early on but Hunt soon retook it and he continued to lead until the end, winning the race six seconds clear of Patrick Depallier and Mario Andretti. Lauda finished outside the points and Hunt closed the gap. He went on to win the championship by just one point.

Ayrton Senna (1988 & 1990 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

McLaren did not win again in Canada until over ten years after James Hunt’s victory. By this stage the race now had a new location – Montreal and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – and Ayrton Senna took the win in 1988 and 1990. The race was fifth on the calendar and Senna went into it off the back of two podium finishes, a DNF and a disqualification. Senna out-qualified team-mate Alain Prost by a tenth of a second. Prost took the lead at the start of the race and Senna sat behind him until lap 19 when he took the lead back. He was never challenged and went on to win ahead of Prost and Thierry Boutsen. Senna repeated the victory in 1990 again taking pole position ahead of his team-mate, who this time was Gerhard Berger who jumped the start and picked up a time penalty. Senna retained his lead this time and won ahead of fellow Brazilian Nelson Piquet and Ferrari’s Nigel Mansell.

Gerhard Berger (1992 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

After a disappointing result in 1990, where he was penalised for a jump start, Berger got the better of his team-mate in 1992 when he won the race. Ayrton Senna started the race from pole position with Berger lining up in fourth. Senna retained the lead and Berger got caught up in a train of cars behind Riccardo Patrese. When Berger got free he wasted no time in chasing Senna. The Brazilian, however, would soon retire from the race with a gearbox problem giving the lead and win to Berger. Michael Schumacher finished in second place and Jean Alesi in third.

Mika Hakkinen (1999 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

Mika Hakkinen won the Canadian Grand Prix en route to his second world championship. Michael Schumacher took pole position by just 2 hundreths of a second from Hakkinen. There were two safety cars during the race and following the second Hakkinen put pressure on his Ferrari rival. Schumacher made an uncharacteristic mistake and hit the wall on the exit of the final chicane. Ricardo Zonta and Damon Hill had already hit it earlier in the race and this contributed to it picking up its name – the Wall of Champions. Hakkinen kept his car on track and went on to win ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella and Eddie Irvine. Hakkinen’s McLaren team-mate David Coulthard finished just outside the points in seventh.

Kimi Raikkonen (2005 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

After a five year Schumacher domination in Canada (one win for Ralf and four for Michael), Kimi Raikkonen got McLaren back to winning ways at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Jenson Button took a shock pole for BAR-Honda, with Michael Schumacher lining up alongside. Kimi Raikkonen qualified down in seventh place with his team-mate, Juan Pablo Montoya, taking fifth. The front row made a poor start which allowed both Renault drivers – championship contender Fernando Alonso and his team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella – to take advantage and move into first and second. On lap 33, Fisichella retired with hydraulics problems and Alonso also retired, although his was after an accident which broke his suspension. Another crash, this time by Button, resulted in a safety car and Raikkonen took the lead. His team-mate was eventually disqualified for ignoring red lights at the end of the pit-lane. Schumacher finished second with Rubens Barrichello in third.

Lewis Hamilton (2007, 2010 & 2012 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

Lewis Hamilton is McLaren’s most successful driver at the Canadian Grand Prix. It was the scene of his first ever Grand Prix victory back in his rookie year of 2007. He started the weekend leading team-mate Fernando Alonso in a McLaren front-row lock-out (also his first pole position). It was a race of two halves for McLaren – Hamilton dominated out front, successfully navigating four safety cars, while on the other side Alonso had a race strewn with mistakes, topped off by being overtaken by a Super Aguri. Nick Heidfeld and Alexander Wurz completed the podium positions. Hamilton retired from the race in 2008 and it was not held in 2009, but he returned to winning ways in 2010. He once again started from pole and led home a McLaren 1-2, with new team-mate Jenson Button finishing second. Alonso completed the podium. Hamilton retired again in 2011, after contact with his team-mate, but won the 2012 edition of the race. He qualified second to Sebastian Vettel, who finished fourth. Hamilton became the seventh different winner in as many races when he won the 2012 Canadian Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Romain Grosjean and future McLaren driver Sergio Perez.

Jenson Button (2011 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)

Jenson Button went through the ringer on his way to victory at the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. To start with he started in seventh place and with heavy rain on race day he faced a difficult fight through if he wanted a podium. Early on he made contact with team-mate Lewis Hamilton as the latter tried to pull off an overtake. Both were investigated for their speed behind the safety car and, after Hamilton retired, Button was given a drive through penalty, dropping him right down the order. The race was suspended due to the weather and Button found himself in tenth – worse than his starting spot. After the restart Button made contact with Fernando Alonso which led to front wing damage and another pit-stop, dropping him down to last. After six pit-stops (!), a drive through penalty, and dropping to last at least twice, Button overcame it all to charge Sebastian Vettel down in the closing stages. An uncharacteristic mistake from an under pressure Vettel gave Button his opportunity and he took the lead on the last lap, going on to take a well deserved victory!

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