Grand Prix 2015 Canadian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

In 1976 Montreal hosted the Summer Olympic games. This in itself is not that interesting a fact but what is interesting is that it is estimated that the Olympic stadium cost the city of Montreal somewhere in the region of 1.6 billion Canadian Dollars by the time the bill was fully paid in 2006. What does this have to do with F1? Well apart from the obvious, that the Circuit Ile Notre-Dame, as it was originally known, or the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as it became known, is partly built around the 1976 Olympic Rowing lake, there is a wider reason to celebrate the GP. In the wake of the Olympics the city almost bankrupted itself. Such was the dodgy state of the finances after the Canadian government insisted that the full costs were met by the City, that anything that wasn’t nailed down was auctioned off. What this highlights is that while on the surface, it would seem to be the greatest show on earth, under the surface the shear effort required to project that image can do lasting damage. Surely an analogy for F1 if ever there was one.

This is why we must celebrate Canada and the Canadian GP. From the moment that Gilles Villeneuve won the first race held in Montreal in 1978 the circuit has proven time and time again what an asset it is to the F1 calendar. There are any number of great moments that spring to mind from Button harrying Vettel into a last lap mistake to take an unlikely win, to the hilarity of Nelson Piquet winning for Benetton in 91 after Mansell had caused his own engine to cut out when he’d been leading by a mile and slowed down to wave to the crowd. There are even small events such as Takuma Sato in his Super Aguri chasing down and eventually passing Fernando Alonso to finish in 6th place. A move that gained him the award for ‘Overtake of the year’ showing that F1 fans have a sense of humour even in F1 doesn’t.

The circuit itself remains refreshingly unchanged from its first race in 78. There have been minor changes to kerbs and a pit lane extension to cope with NASCAR grids but apart from that little else. Back in the mid-90’s before Bernie outlawed the teams having fun unless they paid a ‘fun premium’, the mechanics would hold a raft race across the Olympic rowing lake, on the Thursday before the race. From my old and dusty Jordan F1 team supporters club letters, it would seem Jordan picked up the winners trophy in this race several years before Damon Hill picked up their first trophy on track. It could be argued though that Hill was possibly only slighter drier than the Jordan raft building crew.

That’s the sort of atmosphere that surrounds the race though. It’s tough, it’s unpredictable and it’s hugely enjoyable. For those who like a drink with their F1, there are more than enough ‘drinking game opportunities to be had including every time the ‘wall of champions’ gets a mention or stories surrounding Alesi’s first win or the Olympics. The race will be live on both Sky and the BBC again proving how popular it is.

As for the current grid, coming off the back of Monaco, this is the shot in the arm that the sport needs. Hamilton will be odds on favourite to add to his three victories at a circuit where he took his first win and one that he clearly enjoys. Proving how difficult it is to succeed here, only a handful of drivers have won this race more than once although Michael Schumacher does account for a staggering 8 wins at this track.

Let’s hope that Canada doesn’t let us down because it rarely does.
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Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
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The quick chat Eddie Jordan did with Michael Douglas and Son was toe curling. Michael Douglas's Son spoke as if no one outside of his world had ever heard of Indy car. And when Michael Douglas talked of F1 being unpredictable I knew he'd not watched too many races.
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