Canadian GP promoter upgrades Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for modern era
|Montreal Gazette 10 Jun 2018 at 10:39|
An artist s rendering of the new paddocks to be built at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the 2019 Formula One race. Courtesy of the Société du Parc Jean Drapeau
While this year’s Canadian Grand Prix was a celebration of the Formula One race’s 40th anniversary in Montreal, race promoter François Dumontier’s focus will soon shift to launching the 2019 event into the “modern era.”
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve’s outdated paddocks and team garages, which have been around for 31 years, have a date with the wrecking ball to make way for new paddocks in time for next year’s race.
The new venue, being , will house garages, team facilities and suites above the garages for 5,000 race fans.
Although the project is being funded and spearheaded by the city of Montreal, Dumontier’s Octane Racing Group had input in the process, especially when it came to F1-specific amenities.
“Since we are the main user of that infrastructure, we were part since, I would say, almost Day 1,” Dumontier said. “You can design something really nice, but it might not really work with Formula One.”
Upgraded facilities available at other tracks in Formula 1 made these upgrades necessary, Dumontier said.
The F1 teams will see a major change in the amount of space they have in the new facilities — especially the permanent space.
“Right now, it’s part in the garage, part in a tent. In 2019, it’s going to be all in the garage,” Dumontier said.
New technology will also be integrated into the garages, making life easier for mechanics and team officials during the race.
“We know what they are looking for when they travel and I think they will find everything they need,” Dumontier said.
Some changes are already in place for this year gave teams more work space. The area behind the paddocks was expanded and repaved, and the structures over the rowing basin were more than doubled in size.
An artist’s rendering of the new paddocks to be built at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the 2019 Formula One race. Courtesy of the Société du Parc Jean Drapeau
When the new facilities — which Dumontier believes will enhance the image of the Canadian Grand Prix — are built, fans in the suites above the garages will also see upgrades.
“For fans, it’s going to be a huge change,” said Dumontier, who hopes the new signature facilities will instil a sense of pride in racing fans.
Fans will have a better view of the track thanks to grandstands that will extend over the pit lane. And Dumontier said the new facilities will be universally accessible thanks to elevators, something that is not the case right now.
Work on the new paddocks will start immediately after the race and Dumontier said it is slated to be completed by May so his team will have a month to work out any last-minute issues.
Dumontier said talks continue with potential new title sponsors for the race and he hopes to have one in place for the 2019 race. Heineken, which chose the Canadian GP as one of three F1 races to sponsor this year, is helping move things in the right direction.
“I am at a point that the discussions I am having are not with local companies … more with international companies. Some of them are not even doing business in Canada.”
Dumontier added that TV viewership is the main attraction for sponsors.
Race organizers are constantly working to improve the fan experience and Dumontier says the food offerings on site have been improved, with healthier options added.
“We try to have a variety of different types of food on site, at different parts of the track,” Dumontier said.
Visitors this year had gluten-free options and there were more offerings of chicken, salads and sandwiches along with fast-food fare.
“Of course, the poutine is always something the tourists are looking for. So this year we have a poutine bar,” Dumontier said, adding that smoked meat is another favourite among foreign visitors.
Montreal driver Lance Stroll had his own cheering section on Sunday, a new initiative for 2018. Dumontier said the idea for a Stroll grandstand came from Belgium, which has a Max Verstappen grandstand.
“Everybody in that grandstand was wearing an orange T-shirt. And every time that Max was driving past the grandstand, everyone was cheering. And I wanted to have the same type of thing for Lance,” Dumontier said.
A grandstand in the hairpin was chosen because it is one of the biggest on the track and it is an area that receives a lot of exposure on television, Dumontier said.