Formula One - the pinnacle of motorsport. F-1 is a series of which I used to be a more devoted follower, along with my good friend Luke. While I drifted away from watching races over the years, Luke maintained his close interest.
It had been over 10 years since I last attended a live Formula One race, back in 2003 in Montreal
. Recently, Luke had been suggesting that a group of us should attend again, but one obstacle or another got in the way. This year, however, things came together successfully, and we decided to make attending the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix a reality. In addition to myself, of all of the other people Luke invited, only one said yes: Adrienne, the wife of one of his musical band-mates. She too had been a more interested F-1 fan in years past, and thought it might be fun to attend.
Jean-Drapeau Metro Station
The Canadian Grand Prix is held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada - only a couple of hours drive from where we live. Luke has a brother-in-law that lives on the island of Laval in the northern part of Montreal, and he generously offered his house as a crash-pad for us during the race weekend.
The tickets we purchased provided access for all three days of the race weekend - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I only was present for Saturday and Sunday, so, Saturday morning is where this picture-story begins.
The F-1 Grand Prix of Canada has, for the last 30+ years, been held at the circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, located on an island in the Saint-Lawrence River. Named Notre-Dame island, it was constructed out of the tailings from the building of the Montreal subway system in 1965. Over the years, the island has been carefully sculpted and cultivated, and today it is generously covered in trees and parkland, bike paths and beaches, canals and ponds.
Biosphere and Entrance
One of the great things about the venue at Ile Notre-Dame is the transit access. One of Montreal's subway lines has a stop on an immediately adjacent island (Ile Sainte-Helene), and this is how most of the race attendees - including us - get to the track. A stress-free 25-minute subway ride from Montreal's northern suburbs brought us to the island's Jean-Drapeau Metro Station shortly before 8am on Saturday morning.
Seeing as a fairly sizeable contingent attend only on the actual F-1 race day (i.e. Sunday), the entrance gate - and the crowds in general - were light today. With warm and pleasant weather conditions, it was an enjoyable walk to our assigned seats in stand 12, which are located on the extreme far end of the track from the entrance. A fairly long walk of about two kilometres in total.
Now, that's a racing hat!
Stand 12 - an immense structure capable of holding many thousands of spectators - was mostly empty when we arrived. Our seats were high up and to one side. They afforded a panoramic view of all of turns 1 and 2 on the track.
The first bit of action we witnessed was the qualifying session for the Ferrari Challenge Series. Created in 1993, the drivers in this series are Ferrari owners themselves, racing in their own specially-prepared vehicles. These days, the Ferrari of choice is the 458C. All of the cars we saw in qualifying were of this type.
A steady stream of spectators began to arrive during and after the Ferrari Challenge qualifying session, and by 10 am, the stands were noticeably fuller. Anticipation was building for the first appearance of Formula 1 cars for the day: the third and final F-1 free practice session.