Montreal flashback: “Wall of champions” claims four in 1999


The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the Isle Notre Dame doesn’t have a jaw-dropping, iconic corner quite like Eau Rouge at Spa-Francorchamps, 130R at Suzuka, or the Parabolica at Monza. But its last corner, the chicane onto the front straight, is probably the most memorable on the course in Montreal.

Its exit is known, simply, as the “Wall of Champions.”

This chicane, a crashing right-left over the curbs, has claimed a ripe number of victims over the years. The corner’s slow enough to where none of these wall impacts have caused any significant injuries, but it’s fast enough to push drivers to and often over the limit in order to make up lost hundredths or tenths of seconds. All that really gets hurt is pride.

Every Canadian Grand Prix weekend seems to have at least one or two major impacts at this corner. In 1999, four champions – three World Champions in Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve and F3000 champion Ricardo Zonta – all made impact with the wall on exit.

Mika Hakkinen won the race over Giancarlo Fisichella and Eddie Irvine, but the race was more widely remembered for its four safety car periods.

You can see who the wall claims this year, starting with free practice two at 2 p.m. ET on Friday on the NBC Sports Network, and the race Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC. Live streaming is also available via NBC Sports Live Extra.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.