Grandstand Testing: Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix

After three long years, the Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix is ​​finally making its return to Montreal. From June 17-19, fans came from all over North America to see the race and The McGill Tribune followed suit, heading to the track to explore the stage and experience the excitement of the F1 Grand Prix firsthand.

The city streets were filled with luxury cars, electronic racing simulators and lavish pop-up bars, all in celebration of the Grand Prix weekend. Before seeing the race, we explored some of the stands, including displays with McLaren and Williams cars where you could take photos and get a closer look at how each car has been carefully crafted into a hundred million dollar racing machine. dollars.

Friday began with fairly rainy weather, making the track slippery and the viewing conditions cold and wet. After the free practice sessions, Red Bull racer Max Verstappen was a strong favourite, finishing first in FP1 and FP2. That momentum continued on Saturday, where Verstappen dominated the competition, setting the fastest lap of three qualifying sessions.

Even with general admission tickets, we were able to find spots right off the track, where we were blown away by the sound of powerful engines and the best views. With cars going over 300 kilometers per hour, fans were on their toes, knowing they could blink and miss all the action. A surprising element was the smell. With the rain and wind, the smell of a racing car – burning rubber and gasoline – filled the air. Although these smells are traditionally unpleasant, they have added to the full experience of being on the race track. After browsing the viewpoints around the track, we set up at the start of the hairpin bend – a prime location as we were able to see the cars both as they downshifted into the bend and accelerated out of the turn. Around us were fans from Edmonton, Mexico City, Chicago and Los Angeles who had been waiting years for the return of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Before Sunday’s race, the weather cleared and the sun slipped behind the clouds for a great day of racing. The most notable news for race day was that Charles Leclerc Ferrari, currently P3 in the Drivers’ Championship, would start 19th after a 10-place grid penalty for changing its engine a third time, when only two engine changes are due. authorized.

Leclerc then moved up 14 places during the race to finish fifth. With his ability to perform exceptionally well under pressure and provided the issues with his car are resolved, Leclerc is a serious contender for the drivers’ championship, the only driver with the most points at the end of the F1 season.

While Saturday’s qualifying was a historic day for the Haas team as they qualified fifth and sixth – their best team results – the race was unfortunately not as successful. After an impressive start to the race, Mick Schumacher had a power unit problem in his car and was forced to retire just over halfway through the course. Teammate Kevin Magnussen suffered damage to his front wing on the first lap of the race and was forced to pit for repairs, leaving him to finish dead last in 17th place.

As a relatively new fan of the sport, experiencing my first Grand Prix was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Seeing the city come to life and thousands of passionate fans filling the streets and the stadium after two pandemic summers was an unforgettable experience.

F1 races are often inaccessible, with ticket prices running into the thousands of dollars a day. But if you’re lucky enough to attend, attending a Grand Prix weekend is a great way to feel the full intensity of a race, meet other fans and check out something new on your F1 to-do list.

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