Murray's Memories: F1 Canadian GP 1999: 'The Wall of Champions'

Legendary F1 commentator Murray Walker will be providing a series of archive-based videos and written articles for every race of the 2013 season.

'Murray's Memories' are his personal recollections of some of the most dramatic moments in the history of F1 - the seventh in the series is the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix.

Formula 1 loves Montreal and the Canadian Grand Prix but, in 1999, three world champions had their love go cold as the tricky final chicane caught them out.

It was the race that earned the concrete wall on the exit of the chicane, opposite the entry to the pits, the nickname 'the Wall of Champions'. All but one of the world champions in the race smashed into it and wrecked their day.

The first man to hit the wall on a crazy day that saw the safety car brought into action four times - and finish the race - was not quite so high profile. But he was a champion - in Formula 3000. Brazilian Ricardo Zonta got his BAR very sideways there on lap three, knocking off his right rear wheel. Out comes the safety car for the first time.

Twelve laps later, it was the turn of the first world champion - 1996's Damon Hill, who was not having a good time in what turned out to be his final season in F1. His was an almost carbon-copy crash. Too much speed, he lost the rear. Whack.

Canadian Grand Prix 1999

Canadian F1
  • Race 6 of the 1999 season
  • 69 laps
  • 305.049 km (189.549 mi)
  • Pole: Michael Schumacher (1:19.298)
  • Winner: Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes)

Fifteen laps later there was amazement when double world champion and race leader Michael Schumacher's Ferrari had the biggest impact there so far.

Trying to build a lead before his pit stop, he went too fast, the rear stepped out, and he slid into the wall sideways on. Bang. Schumacher's was the biggest crash of the lot - he hit it really hard, wiping out his front and rear suspension.

The final crash served up something different. This time it was Zonta's team-mate Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 champion, who wrote off his car - but he went in front first. Thwack.

Canada has served up some fantastic grands prix - it very rarely disappoints. But this was easily one of the most dramatic. And it proved the old saying - even the best can make mistakes!