Absent from the Formula 1 calendar since 2019, the Canadian Grand Prix was back in race mode on Sunday to the delight of drivers, fans and business owners who had missed the fast-paced action on the circuit during its enforced COVID-19 break.
Every time the F1 circus pitches its tent in a city, the drivers roll out well-rehearsed platitudes, but there’s always been a sense of sincerity when it comes to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a high-speed track on Ile Notre – Lady in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. “It’s such a great place, obviously one of my favorite circuits, one of the oldest that’s still on the calendar and it’s quite special,” said Esteban Ocon of Alpine. “It’s great to see the city completely transform into racing mode.”
As drivers missed out on the Canadian Grand Prix, local businesses were heartbroken. The race is not only one of the hottest sporting events in Canada, but it has become a week-long festival of high-octane fun that has boosted the economy of the Montreal area.
The Société du parc Jean-Drapeau, Tourisme Montréal and the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada published earlier this year, according to Radio-Canada, a study which concluded that the economic impact of the event on the gross domestic product ( GDP) was $63.2 million (CDN). Interest in this year’s race exploded after the NetFlix documentary series ‘Drive To Survive’ provided a behind-the-scenes look at F1’s personalities and rivalries – with people locked down during the frenzy of the COVID-19 pandemic. 19 watching episodes.
“You can feel people love Formula 1, you can see there are a lot of Formula 1 fans,” said AlphaTuari team principal Franz Tost. “Of course it’s part of the story. Canada has a fantastic history in Formula 1 with Gilles Villeneuve and with other Formula 1 drivers.”
Mother Nature didn’t really welcome F1 in Montreal as Friday practice and Saturday qualifying were rocked by thunderstorms and driving rain. But the weather for Sunday’s race was near perfect, giving the sold-out crowd a good return on their expensive investment as Red Bull championship leader Max Verstappen held off a challenge from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to extend his advantage in the standings.
Racing fans have blocked worries of soaring gas prices and inflation by opening their wallets to secure a place on the circuit. Tickets for Sunday’s race at resale venues weren’t for the faint-hearted, with general admission costing over $500 while VIP suites topped $10,000.
Hotels were also cashing in with rooms averaging over $500 a night while AirBnB was charging $1,000 to $4,000 a day for a downtown condo. Restaurants and bars, especially those operating on pedestrian-only streets like Crescent and Peel, were the heart of the party, with the fun extending well into the early hours.
“I wasn’t going to miss it,” said Toronto’s Tom, who admitted to having a nursing hangover as he headed to the track on Sunday. “I spent enough to buy a car but it’s worth it.”
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)