The (rest of the) Canadian Grand Prix Report

It's not raining yet...

Well, that was… interesting.  But before I can tell you about the race, I should tell you about Qualifying.

It was supposed to rain on Saturday.  So I made sure I had the rain ponchos and a towel in my backpack.  I also packed a spare sweatshirt because it was also supposed to be chilly.

When I arrived at the track it was actually sunny, and not that cold.  I settled in to watch the final practice session before qualifying.  I love this qualifying system.  It has been like this for a few years now, and it is tons of fun to watch.  First all 24 cars go out for 20 minutes.  At the end of the session, the 8 slowest cars are eliminated, and they take up the last eight spots on the grid.  Then we have a short break so we can all catch our breath and then the remaining cars go out again, for 15 minutes this time.  The six slowest cars are eliminated this time, leaving ten cars to go for pole in the last session.  It is very exciting.  I love it.

After practice the clouds started to roll in.  By the time qually started I was wearing a long sleeved shirt under my lucky Alonso t-shirt, a black hoodie, and another hoodie over all that.  I was actually warm enough, though my seatmate found my many layers amusing.  I also bought a t-shirt, and I will show you a picture of that later.

It didn’t rain and qualifying went well, and I am always surprised how much faster it all goes in person.  It’s like you blink and it’s over.  Vettel was on pole again, which is getting pretty boring, but Alonso was second so I was happy about that.  And they even showed the press conference on the Jumbo-trons.  I like that because they show the bit at the end that they never show on television where each of the top three drivers says a few words in his own language.  I can’t help it, I like to listen to Alonso speak Spanish.  Ooooh….

But I digress.  Saturday night I wandered around Boulevard. St. Laurent a little bit.  And I had dinner at a Mexican restaurant on Rue St. Arthur; this was the neighborhood we lived in last summer when we spent a month in Montreal, so I did a fair amount of tripping down memory lane.  It was fun.

Sunday morning it was grey and cold.  I put on three of my four layers of clothing and went back to the track.  It was rainy and cold and gross, and really the kind of racing conditions I hate.

I timed my arrival in the grandstands to be just before the driver’s parade.  I yelled hello to Alonso and waved, but he didn’t see me.  Oh well.

It started raining before the race and they decided to start behind the safety car.  I have never seen a safety car start before, at least not live and in person, so that was interesting, but it is not as exciting as the usual standing start.

Safety Car start - I've never seen this before

Conditions were pretty awful.  It did start to clear up a few laps after the safety car went in, and Alonso came in to change from the full wet tires to the inters, only to have the sky open up a lap later.  I spent the next few minutes holding my breath, hoping he would make it back around to the pits to get the appropriate tires.  He did.  Whew!  But then they red-flagged the race.  This is the equivalent of a rain delay.  It was cold, it was rainy, and I was not having a good time.

fellow race fans huddled braving the elements

At one point as I was sitting there huddled under my rain poncho my seatmate looked over and said “I think the red dye in your hat is running, I just saw a red drop run down your face”.  Oh great.  So I took the Ferrari hat off.  There were some red patches in my hair, but they didn’t last long in the rain, and on the plus side I finally feel like that hat is clean after the bus-sick incident of 2008.

So after an hour of sitting in the rain getting more and more soggy and shivering harder and harder, I made a very difficult decision.  I decided to bail.  I never thought I would do a think like that, but at that point, I was soaked to the skin and freezing.  And my seatmate said it would probably be at least another hour before they could start the race, even if it stopped raining right that minute, which it was not going to do.

I gave up.  I felt awful about it, but I was so cold, and I was not having fun.  And they stopped the race on lap 28, 7 laps before the halfway point.  I was kind of afraid I would sit there shivering for another hour just so they could all parade around the safety car for 7 laps so they could call the race official and stop it for good.

Of course that is not what happened, but I did manage to get back to my hotel, take a hot shower, change into dry clothes and crawl under the covers just in time to watch the restart on television.

Alonso had a crash, so he didn’t finish.  Hamilton had a crash so he didn’t finish (hah) and Jenson Button passed Sebastian Vettel on one of the final laps to win the race.  Pretty amazing considering he made six pit stops and at one point he was in 21st place.  Wow.

So, part of me regrets leaving early, but not a very big part of me. It was a great weekend in spite of the washout on Sunday, and who knows, maybe next year I will be going to the US Grand Prix in Austin, TX.  I hope so.

Forza Ferrari



Gentlemen start your engines

Okay, wrong motorsport, but I have excellent news.  The Canadian Grand Prix is back baby.  Back and better than ever.  Better than ever because there was no Canadian Grand Prix in 2009.  This is the first year I have not been to a Grand Prix since 2003.  I know, poor pitiful me.

But all that is going to change.  Bernie Ecclestone, AKA the Toxic Vampire has signed a long-term contract with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, and we are good to go.  I already have my tickets.  Well, I don’t actually have them in my hands, but I have placed my order and I have my receipt. So I’m sure we will have them soon, but hopefully not too soon.  The longer I have them in my possession, the more likely I am to lose them.

We have tickets and we have hotel reservations.  Now we need plane tickets.  Oooh, I am so excited!

Here’s the best part.  I have not mentioned this, but Fernando Alonso, the lovely and talented Fernando Alonso will be driving for Ferrari next year.  I just happen to know where the Ferrari team stayed in Montreal last time.  Perhaps I will have to spend some of my weekend hanging out in front of that particular hotel.  That way I can hyperventilate and lose the power of speech when he walks in and out of the building.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  You know, Tom didn’t think so either.

Farewell Canadian Grand Prix

Well, here I was all ready to write a nice happy “why I love the Red Sox” type of post today.  But now that will have to wait until tomorrow because I am very, very angry.

Why?  I’ll tell you.  Because Bernie Ecclestone, grand poobah of Formula One Management has dropped the Canadian Grand Prix from the 2009 calendar.  Bastard.  What are we having instead?  The Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.  Oh, yeah, I’m sure tons of people are just dying to go to Abu Dhabi for a long weekend.  I’m sorry I should take the snarky tone out of my voice.

I believe the claim is that it is too expensive to do the fly-away to North America now that there is no US Grand Prix.  Never mind that North America has to be one of the biggest if not the biggest market for most of the manufacturers.  I can’t imagine Mercedes or BMW or Honda or Toyota are too excited about this. 

But of course instead of flying here they are flying to Abu Dhabi instead.  So, where is the savings here?  It’s all just a big fat excuse. 

There have also been rumors about running this race at night.  So, add the cost and potential dangers of racing at night into the mix.  And why does Bernie want the race at night?  So it will be on in the late afternoon in Europe.  Never mind that the Canadian race can run during the day and be aired in Prime Time in Europe.  That’s too easy.

It’s all about the Benjamins with Bernie.  So who cares if a city with a long tradition of F1racing loses their event if another country comes along and offers Bernie big truckloads of money.  Who cares if Montreal actually has a contract with FOM through 2011?  Contracts are for wimps anyway.

I’m just sick.  This means no F1 live and in person for me next year.  No stalking race car drivers (not that I would do that – that would be illegal) and no hanging out at the track with like minded fans.  This just stinks.