The Formula One Canadian Grand Prix has been running since 1967, making it one of the oldest and most recognizable on the calendar. However, he lacks the charisma of Spa-Francorchamps, Silverstone, Monza and Monaco of this world, which is why he was often shunned in the early days of racing video games. At the time, there simply wasn’t room to fit 14-16 memory cards in a game, so the developers had to make some choices.
Featured Image: Paradigm Entertainment
Since the late 1980s, however, virtually all Formula One games released have been able to race on the Île Notre Dame route. Let’s take advantage of the fact that the Grand Prix is taking place this weekend to provide a comprehensive overview of the presence of the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit in five video games in history.
Michael Andretti World Grand Prix – Human Entertainment (NES)
Image credit: American Sammy.
In what would be one of the first re-enactments of the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit where you can actually drive a car, Michael Andretti World GP, the US version of Satoru Nakajima F-1 Hero was released on the NES in 1990. This is a typical game of what was seen in the slot machines of the time, either the view from behind the car with a few elements around the track, and as you can see, probably a reconstruction of Mont Royal or Mont Saint Hilaire in the background, we really don’t know.
The game recreates the 1988 Formula 1 season, but there is a “zest” here: the track of the 1978-1986 version is used. Indeed, the starting line at that time was just at the exit of the hairpin at the end of the island and led to an extremely fast right-left-right sequence near the Casino, which was the Pavilion of France at the Terre des Hommes/Expo. 67 at the time.
Formula One Grand Prix – Microprose / Jeff Crummond (DOS)
Image Credit: MicroProse
Following the relative success of Indianapolis 500: The Simulation by Americans Papyrus, Briton Jeff Crummond set out to create what would become the first game to be recognized as a true 3D Formula 1: Formula One Grand Prix simulation.
The game is very complete and recreates the 1991 Formula 1 season as much as possible without the official license of the series. Tests, qualifications, full races, everything is there. Do you want to race with your keyboard, joystick or steering wheel? No problem. The realism for that time is very high, and this game became the basis for the subsequent Grand Prix 2, 3 and 4. The game is even in 3D, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, which gave, for that time, quite interesting graphics. However, they have aged very badly, as you can see in the screenshot at the top of this section.
The in-game version of the track fairly accurately reflects the track as it looked in 1991. The screenshot shows the casino chicane removed in 1996 after it was deemed too dangerous following the death of Ayrton Senna.
F1 World Grand Prix – Paradigm Entertainment (N64)
Image credit: Paradigm Entertainment
1997 The year of Driver Will’s triumph… Jacques Villeneuve, our Quebec hero! However, it should be remembered that his time at the track that bears his father’s name was less glorious. You can fix that by playing this game that faithfully recreates this year on Nintendo 64.
The graphics are obviously old, but for a game of the era, the recreation of the track is well done. You can even see sponsors that could be shown legally (fortunately we’ll be back to alcohol and tobacco) and even small touches like the “Bienvenue au Québec” banner. Please note that this is the first game in this series to have the layout we know today or so (the exit from the boxes was before the first move, not on Senna’s S hairpin, which is nicely recreated in the game).
Image credit: iRacing
Anyone familiar with SFTV knows that this is our favorite simulator. This version was laser scanned in 2011 when the NASCAR Xfinity series (then nationwide) switched to the NAPA Auto Parts 200. So this version has a few points that will tickle any F1 virtual fan.
First, it’s a NASCAR version, not a single seater. What does it change? A lot of things in fact, starting with vibrators, or rather speed bumps, they are so high. They are good for stock or touring racing, but for single seaters they cause a lot of problems for drivers who are fine with that because…well…we have a local track in the simulator after all. Also note the pit lane, which is longer than the F1 version to accommodate 40 cars instead of 20.
Speaking of boxes, the buildings in the corrals are outdated and don’t reflect the renovation done in 2019. At the very least, this obsolescence would have made it possible to capture a great shot of the old media building in our virtual studio during the last release. Montreal Six Hours (virtual) hosted by LAS eSports.
In any case, does the SFTV team say, “iRacing, please sort things out? Of course, in the end, that’s what she does in every story. Otherwise, this version remains the most faithful to reality in terms of cornering geometry, track roughness, and visual cues placement, although some of them are starting to get old.
F1 2021 – Codemasters/EA (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox S/X)
Image courtesy of iRacing/Codemasters.
Despite being absent from the F1 calendar for the past two seasons due to you-know-what, Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve was still offered to fans who purchased the latest installment in Codemasters’ F1 game series, now under Electronic Arts publishing for a 2022 release. which will be available July 1st. One would think adding circuits like Imola and Portimão could cost unscheduled Grands Prix like Singapore, Melbourne and Montreal, but the game’s developers decided otherwise and kept the F1 experience “as it should have been”.
The improvements from year to year are minimal in terms of existing layouts, but we have to take our hats off to the developers who have included new buildings in the pit line, in addition to giving a more modern touch to the advertising partners shown during the Grand Prix.
Unlike iRacing, this version is not based on laser scanning. Thus, we can point out some differences, especially in terms of elevation changes, which are much more noticeable in F1 2021 than in real life. Another difference is that some clearings, previously covered with gravel, have been paved. However, this detail is not entirely unambiguous, but nevertheless true to the current layout. Codemasters also went to great lengths to clear the underside of the tree trunks along the “bike” section – essentially the first and second quadrants – to have a great view of downtown Montreal, a touch that enhances the “immersion”.
Bonus: Mosport and Mont Tremblant in Grand Prix Legends (PC)
Image Credit: Sierra Entertainment
The game didn’t have a real break in North America, despite being developed by a New England box (Papyrus, the vast majority of whose staff went on to found iRacing), but Grand Prix Legends is the genre’s benchmark for everyone. sim racing enthusiasts, especially in Europe. The game recreates the 1967 Formula One season, so Mosport, which hosted the Canadian Grand Prix at the time, comes with the game.
We quickly realize two things: the graphics, while outdated, are still very acceptable for a 1998 game today, and the circuit layout has changed very little between 1967 and 2022. Moss looks somewhat gloomy and dizzy.
The Mont-Tremblant circuit, which hosted the 1968 and 1970 Grand Prix under the name Saint-Jovite, is available in addition to the game in a version very well prepared by Gilles Benoit.
With only limited space, many games have of course been forgotten. Tell us in the comments what was your first experience of playing in Formula 1!