Why Is Turn 14 of the F1 Canadian GP Called the Wall of Champions?

Published 06/18/2022, 2:47 PM EDT

The ‘Wall of Champions’ at the F1 Canadian Grand Prix is as misleading as it is dangerous. The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve has been on the F1 calendar since 1978 and the 2.7 miles long track is fast. And this quality is exactly what gave birth to the term, ‘Wall of champions.’ And before the term misleads, we would like to explain the history behind the track and the wall.

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Although the Grand Prix has been around since 1978, the Wall of Champions came into existence in 1999. Toward the last straight toward the start/finish line at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, there is a fast final chicane. And on the right-hand side of the exit of this chicane, there is a wall which is termed the ‘Wall of Champions.’

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Now let’s talk about the why. In 1999 the fast chicane took not one, but three world champions as victims of the tight corner. In the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix, world champion Damon Hill crashed into the wall. Michael Schumacher was the second world champion to follow Hill into the wall as the German crashed his Ferrari into the wall. And Michael’s brother Ralf put his Williams into the wall the same weekend during practice.

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Last but not the least, Jacques Villeneuve lost control of his car and went head first into the wall as another victim of the wall. Jacques is the son of the Canadian world champion Gilles Villeneuve, after whom the circuit is named. Unlike the father, the son never won his home Grand Prix, especially not the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix.

However, after taking three world champions as victims in the same race, the term ‘Wall of Champions’ was coined.

The growing list of the F1 ‘Wall of Champions’

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The infamous wall has taken down many drivers in its time so far and more world champions as well. Jenson Button became a part of the list in 2005, however, Button wasn’t a world champion at that point.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 02: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing prepares to drive during practice for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 2, 2009 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The fifth world champion and the only driver from the current grid is Sebastian Vettel. The German engraved his name on the wall in 2011 as the reigning champion, with his Red Bull touching the wall.

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Hamilton, Verstappen, and Fernando Alonso will need to be careful, as the only champions on the grid that aren’t part of the wall yet.

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Mahim Suhalka

298 articles

Mahim Suhalka is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. This Sports Management post-graduate is an ardent supporter of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team and their lead driver, Lewis Hamilton. The fact that Lewis dominated one of the most expensive sports in the world for all these years, despite his humble beginnings, has been a huge inspiration for Mahim and has made him a tenured fan of the competitive sport itself.

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