As protests continue to gain in size,scope and perhaps intensity, questions are being raised in Montreal about the upcoming Formula One race in three weeks. Steve Cahn discussed this issue with F1B readers here last week and the commentary was interesting to say the least.  Yes, the gravity of the situation between Bahrain and the student protests is certainly different in that Bahrain had the ultimate high stakes in the form of the loss of life and so far Canada is experiencing property damage, altercations with riot police and disruption of the public transportation.

The CBC Radio 1 network in Montreal has a very popular morning show called Daybreak with Mike Finnerty and it was a real honor to be on his show briefly to share my thoughts on the possible impact the protests could have on the American fan traveling to the race. The important part of this podcast and reason for mentioning it isn’t to hear my pie hole gab on about what impact it may have but to hear the gentleman before discuss his view of the altercations and impact it is having on the Just For Laughs Festival. The reason is that this large event venue is at play and just like any large gathering, Formula One may make a similarly good venue or vehicle to register the student protest through rioting or rampant disruption. Here is the podcast, give it a listen. I am on the show at the very end and against a hard break but as I mentioned, the important insight is made by Mr. Andy Nulman, president of the Just for Laughs festival, and not myself. Mr. Nullman is a resident and this may give F1 fans some insight as the situation on the ground.

Let’s discuss it. Are any F1B readers planning on going to the Canadian Grand Prix and if so, does the portests have you concerned over the possible disruption of public transit, rioting or possible violence?

Formula 1 is ignoring the issue completely and the F1 press isn’t mentioning it either. In context, the protests are a minor inconvenience compared the gravity of Bahrain but the disruption and discord may very well be enough to impact the race weekend and travelers to Montreal. I am certainly not attempting to sensationalize the situation or compare it to Bahrain but I do think the intensity and anger of these protests are getting to a boiling point and listening to Mike Finnerty interview several Canadians, it seems like a well-placed lit match could be the small spark that ignites a keg of black powder.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • adaptable1

    My family and I are traveling to Montreal for the Gran Prix. This will be the first time I’ve been in Montreal and I am a little concerned about getting from our hotel to the circuit, not knowing exactly how we’ll get there (subway, taxi, etc.). I don’t mind paying a bit extra to take a cab/car from our hotel…especially considering that at other races I’ve been to often involve a lot of walking in/around the event. I have been in cities during Occupy Wall Street protests (NY, LA, SF, even Sydney), and found that these types of protest are usually peaceful, and if any disruption happens, the authorities know well in advance to insure bystander safety and re-routing, if necessary. That said, I’ll keep an eye on the news to see if these protest intensify. It would take “risk of life” to keep us away from my son’s first F1 race.

    Austin is certainly less of an option for us given that there are no hotels available within 60 miles of the circuit, tickets are not for sales yet, its during the school year for my kid, and the race weekend coincides with College Football in Austin (getting in/out will be crowded). Montreal is a race that has been happening for decades at a more convenient time of the year, and I’m sure it will be better organized than the first race in Austin.

  • dumpsterdiver

    My wife and I will be at the GP again this year. We’re not overly concerned for violence, etc., but optimisitc that public transit won’t be affected too much.

    Sombody should check in with our old member Entropy (who lives there) to see how things are like on the ground.

    • Entropy

      Hi David. Hope to meet you again this year if you’re still in the same grandstand. I’ll be at the same spot (low and to the left) on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, look for the one guy on the whole island with a crew shirt and hat of lotus (the then jarno/heikki lotus). I’ll be in black kimi-lotus gear on Sunday.

      As for the protests, I have to say it has calmed down from previous weeks. Ever since they started this ‘banging on pots and pans’ marching last week, except for the noise it makes every night, there’s hasn’t been any major riots or clash with the police. As I said before in other stories, I don’t think GP goers would run in any harm’s way (the people getting hurt are always the protesters and cops, not bystanders). It’s more about having to cope with marches and noise in the scenary of what is meant to be a holiday.
      My concern was always much more about ‘will they try and block off access to the circuit’. The 4 people that used smoke bombs in the metro last month are now facing some serious charges for their offense, so my guess is that the deterrent to repeat such feat is now well know from protesters. But, you never know. I still intend to take the metro to get on the island, but I’ll definitely look for a back-up plan.
      But in all, I must confess that I’m much more relaxed about the upcoming race weekend than I’ve been, say, last month.

      See you there.

      • dumpsterdiver

        Hey Entropy:

        Great to hear from you and thanks for the insight. We’re going to be up high in Grandstand 11 right next to you this year instead of 12, to try a different view of Turn 1, but I will definitely be on the lookout for you as well. I will be proudly wearing my F1b shirt, and either my BMW Williams or BMW F1 hat like last time. My wife will be decked in her McLaren team shirt.

        Have a great time, and see you there. Any other F1Ber’s that see us, be sure to say hi!

  • Jerome

    I’m living in Montreal and i’m going to the Grand Prix every year since 2000. The F1 grand prix is so big for the city that i’m pretty sure that things are going to be under control.
    To reach the site, different routes are available, direct subway on the island, walking over Jacques Cartier’s bridge, or the other bridge from the Old-Port .
    My favourite is to use the Jacques Cartier bridge by foot. It takes around 20 to 30 min to reach the entrance so. Pedestrians are allowed on the east part of the bridge only. (West part is for bikes). Friday and Saturday are my favourite days. Come early (9 am) and enjoy your time on the circuit.

  • Jared

    My girlfriend and I will be going up from Boston to see the race. I’ve been to Montreal before, but this will be my first race there (and actually my first F1 race ever!). I’m not concerned actually. We’re staying in a local place (found on AirBNB) and will just blend in as we always do when traveling. The place is situated not too far from the track and we’ll likely use the public bicycles to get as close as possible and then walk the rest of the way.

    More importantly, GA or grandstand seating??? Still haven’t decided yet.

  • Inchworm

    It’s definitely worth paying for grandstand seats. No waking up super early just for the hope of actually seeing something. I be done both and the grandstands near turn one were well worth the money over ga. I was at parc ferme under the podium as close as possible after the race for the podium ceremony! Fat chance of that from GA.

  • Jared

    I was actually considering grandstand 21 at the entry of the hairpin. Thoughts?

    • Entropy

      I had done a little guide for GP goers for the forum 2 years ago, but I lost it when my hard drive crashed (2 years ago !). From past experience, the grandstand at the entry of the airpin, is not as good as it looks. Unless you’re in the first 2-3 rows, you’re going to hear them come around, but you won’t see them until they hit the kerb at the airpin since they keep to their left before the breaking spot. If I had to pick, I’d take the grandstand of the airpin exit side over the entry side. Or go in the middle of the airpin, (plus, I think it’s a bronze grandstand too).

      In any case, enjoy !!

    • dumpsterdiver

      I would echo Entropy’s comments on seating at the hairpin. and Inchworm’s on getting grandstand seats vs. GA.
      Also, make sure you and your girlfriend bring comfortable shoes/sandals, and bring plenty of sunscreen if it’s going to be hot, and definitely take your time leaving the track; the subway queues can be long.

  • Jared

    Yeah I’m opting for the bronze grandstand at the hairpin. It’ll give a nice panorama of the cars coming round. I’m going to bring a pair of binocs as the grandstand is set back from the apex a bit, best I can figure. Should be great!

    Don’t think we’ll do the subway. We’ll walk off the island and then pick up a Bixie bike and ride back to the apartment :)