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

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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.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.