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Top 5 Canadian F1 Drivers of all time

The father-son duo has dominated the sport of Formula One over the years.
The father-son duo has dominated the sport of Formula One over the years.
Tanya Kumar

Formula One drivers of Canadian descent have been few and far between over the years. The total number only reaches up to 14 in total, out of which three drivers have managed to score points in races. All three have stood on the podium at least once in their lives.

One name that automatically pops up whenever Canadian F1 drivers are mentioned is the Villeneuve family name. The father-son duo has dominated the sport enough to make their country proud but there needs to be a better influx of racers coming into F1. Thankfully, Lance Stroll has taken up that initiative.

While drivers from Canada have forayed more into other forms of racing like open wheel CART/ Champ Car series or DTM, there are now a few up and coming Formula racers from the country to watch out for.

Here is a list of the top five Canadian F1 drivers who have thrilled and enthralled the viewers, ensuring they stay glued to their seats. Let us look at them one by one:


#5 Bill Brack

Bill entered into the Canadian Grand Prix for three years, racing for Lotus and BRM teams.
Bill entered into the Canadian Grand Prix for three years, racing for Lotus and BRM teams.

Bill Brack first stepped foot into the world of automobile racing in the early 1600s, initially trying his hand at ice racing in Minis. Once he started his own company, Sports Cars Unlimited and began importing Lotus, a door opened for him to hire a seat in the third Lotus car in F1 and he did not let the opportunity pass.

Bill entered into the Canadian Grand Prix for three years, racing for Lotus and BRM teams. However, that was the only Formula One race he ever participated in. In 1968, he had to retire the car after running 18 laps due to a driveshaft issue. The year after that, the result was a non-classified finish despite him still running by the end.

The race in 1972 also led to dismay, with the Canadian spinning off as Moss corner, promptly causing another retirement. Brack never tried his hand at Formula One again, but he soon moved to Formula Atlantic Championships which he won twice.

#4 Allen Berg

Allen raced for the Osella F1 team nine times in the course of three years.
Allen raced for the Osella F1 team nine times in the course of three years.

Allen Berg starting his racing stint by karting as a teenager. He was another driver who tried his hand at Formula Atlantic. While his endeavours in the Formula Pacific Series British Formula 3 were moderately successful, he could not show as strong a performance in Formula One.

He never competed in a Grand Prix in his home country, but Allen raced for the Osella F1 team nine times in the course of three years. Points alluded him throughout his career and his highest finish remains twelfth in Germany.

It would be safe to say that Allen’s contribution to the sport was more in the form of a mentor than a driver. Berg gradually moved on to opening and running a racing school in California for teaching upcoming drivers about the nuances of the sport.

#3 Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll became the second youngest driver to finish on the podium in Azerbaijan Grand Prix, 2017.
Lance Stroll became the second youngest driver to finish on the podium in Azerbaijan Grand Prix, 2017.

The Villeneuve family may have held a stronghold over points scoring and podium finishes by Canadians, but with Lance Stroll's entry onto the scene, that has now changed. It might still be early days for Stroll in the sport, with two seasons under his belt, so it remains to be seen if he will gather more accolades or not. For now, he remains the second youngest driver to finish on the podium.

He jumped into the limelight after his successful Euro F3 Series campaign saw him crowned a champion and he had already won the Italian F4 and the Toyota Racing Series previously. Deciding to make the leap to Formula One directly, he signed a contract with Williams Racing to be their driver for the 2017 season.

It was during his first home race when he brought the car home in points. Azerbaijan Grand Prix came next, and he kept a calm head throughout the chaotic race to finish third. He might have held on to second place if Valtteri Bottas hadn’t snatched the position from him in the ending stages of the race.

#2 Gilles Villeneuve

Gilles Villeneuve
Gilles Villeneuve

The impact of Gilles Villeneuve on the sport can be clearly seen upon having one look at the name of the circuit where the Canadian Grand Prix has been held for the last 30 years. A Formula One circuit is not the only thing Gilles has named after him; a corner and chicane also hold the honour.

The Canadian F1 driver might have started his career with McLaren, but it was Ferrari that decided to persist with him. He started showing results during the latter half of his first full season in the sport, even winning his home Grand Prix.

In 1979, he secured three wins for himself and was highly impressive on four other occasions where he finished runners-up. Gilles and René Arnoux put on a spectacular show during the French Grand Prix when they displayed some fine wheel-to-wheel racing.

Gilles had a knack for driving without making a wrong move. The Spanish Grand Prix in 1981 was proof of his overtaking skills as he moved up from seventh to the lead.

It was also proof of his willpower as he stayed ahead of the rest of the field despite them persisting close behind him, waiting for a minuscule mistake from him that never came. The timesheets read the top five finishing within 1.24s of one another.

#1 Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques became the only World Champion from Canada.
Jacques became the only World Champion from Canada.

Jacques Villeneuve carried forward the driving legacy that his father had sowed the seeds for. Racing for ten years in the sport, Jacques became the only World Champion from Canada. He started his career with Williams in 1996 and results soon followed. In only his first year, the junior Villeneuve racked up four Grand Prix wins and emerged runners up in the fight for drivers’ title.

The next year turned out even better for him. Going head to head with Michael Schumacher, Jacques eked out seven wins as compared to the former's five. It all came down to the last race, where the German retired due to damage from a collision, giving Canadians their first taste of having an F1 world champion among them.

While Jacques spent a few more years racing in Formula One, podium spots and points finish slowly started drying up for the Canadian and he never won again. He tried his hand at other racing series, getting moderate success in his endeavours.

Edited by Alan John

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