Like a number of historic Formula One venues, the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has been threatened with removal from the calendar. However a number of significant upgrades to the facilities saw F1 sign a new deal ton keep the event in Montreal until 2031.
Following concerns over safety the Canadian Grand Prix was moved in 1978 from Gosport to its current home on the Notre Dame Island in Montreal.
Montreal F1 deal until 2031
This year will be the forty second race held in the parkland which sits in the middle of the St Lawrence river. The race was cancelled for two years during the pandemic and on two other occasions due to sponsor disputes in its nigh on five decades of history.
Despite the contract to host an F1 event for the next eight years, Formula One is pushing the organisers to move the event form its traditional June slot in the calendar.
Given the FIA’s net zero target for 2030 F1’s CEO has stated he would like to regionalise the events on the calendar to reduce the travel footprint of the sport at present.
The travel for the recent Baku/Miami back to back events saw the teams leave Europe for Azerbaijain, then fly to Florida and back again to Europe in less than two weeks. This was a journey in excess of 14,000 miles.
Horner agrees with F1 regional calendar
When asked about the F1 annual schedule and at times senseless travel arrangements, Red Bull’s Christian Horner agreed things need to change.
“I think if you look at the calendar, it makes sense to group some of the races together,” he told motorsport.com
“Whether it’s some of the American races, some of the Asian races, Europe, obviously. Some of the calendar this year when you look at the geographies of it, Azerbaijan to Montreal, going to Australia for a weekend, it’s about as expensive as you could make it.
“So I think Stefano is sympathetic to that, but of course, he’s got many challenges with the different promoters to get a calendar that you want.”
Canadian GP promoter resists move from June
In line with this goal the Organisers of the Canadian GP have been asked for their event to be grouped with the other races in the America’s though at present are residing Domenicali’s proposals.
“This has been discussed for a long time,” revealed Francois Dumontier to La Presse, “and I fully understand the reasoning of the governing bodies.
“On paper, it’s an easy problem to solve. But that’s actually far from being the case in reality. And with 23 events on its calendar, F1 must deal with 23 different realities,” added the Montreal F1 promoter.
The weather is a big issue for the Canadian organisers as Dumontier explains, “I can hardly even imagine a race before the beginning of June.”
Weather important to F1 schedule
Formula One would need to accommodate Montreal, Las Vegas, Austin, Miami and Mexico in the pan for regionalising the America’s races. Brazil could be tagged on too if all these races were held during autumn.
Another issue for Montreal is like Monaco the circuit is not a permanent fixture.
“It takes time to put everything in place and in doing so, we risk disrupting the activities of Parc Jean-Drapeau,” said Dumontier.
“And, in the fall, we could also find ourselves in conflict with congresses, for example.”
Vegas and Miami too hot in summer
Yet something has to give with Canada because the races in Miami and Vegas cannot be held in the summer months due to the extreme heat the locations at that time of year.
The reality is Formula One is the single largest sporting event which promotes the French speaking part of Canada and they will not risk losing the event due to other activities held at the same location preventing a shift in the calendar.
F1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali is believed to have plans to expand Formula One to 30 different locations around the world, though with the teams contracted to only 24 at present this would include bi-annual rotation between a number.
FIA signs off the Calendar
This will require flexibility on behalf of the F1 promoters who under Bernie Ecclestone would pay an incremental fee to host their event at the time of their closing.
Further its inconceivable the FIA with its push for net zero will continue to agree to an F1 calendar where Canada requires a trip to and from Europe to keep the race in June.
And it is the FIA who signs off each year’s F1 schedule which cabinet proceed without their approval.
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— Formula 1 (@F1) June 14, 2023