Paddock Nights: Canadian Grand Prix

The Canadian Grand Prix is a favourite among teams and drivers both on and off-track - and with good reason, as Kate Walker explains.

As far as grands prix go, the Canadian race is generally agreed to be the best all-rounder on the calendar.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a challenging track which often plays host to one of the most exciting rounds of the year, the fans are passionate and knowledgeable, and the city of Montreal is an excellent place to eat, drink, and be merry.

During the race weekend, the Ste Catherine shopping street spills over with crowds heading for the endless downtown party that is the Crescent Street Festival, replete with supercar displays, free live entertainment from dawn to dusk, and nightly concerts.

With the city itself celebrating the start of summer after six (or more!) months of freezing winter, Montreal comes alive when F1 comes to town, embracing the opportunity to pick up a sunburn and a beer or six at the same time.

Adding to the fun is the graduating class of McGill University, students unleashed and ready for excitement before the hard work of, well, work starts.

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The undoubted highlight of the Montreal weekend was the post-race party on Sunday night. Held several times a year, the Code20 events are where the paddock lets its hair down en masse and in style.

In Montreal, the drivers were joined by the cast of X-Men: Apocalypse, reality TV star Scott Disick, and assorted models both super and normal on the rooftop terrace at Pandore, overlooking the Quartier des Spectacles.

One man not in attendance was Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen - at only 17 years old, the professional racing driver is too young to enter a nightclub!

What sets the Code20 parties apart from the paddock's other soirees is the quality and variety of spectacle arranged by nightlife guru Elena C, who attracts a much younger crowd than F1's other travelling nightclubs.

Themed events in recent years have seen guests feasting on sushi served on the bodies of nude models, partying in a hammam floating on the middle of the Black Sea, and dancing alongside human lights shows.

In Montreal, the theme was Urban Jungle, and Code20's VIP guests were encouraged to play with the human animals in cages. But beware those brave enough to let the wild animals out to play - human they may have been, but it was the law of the jungle which ruled the night!

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Off track, Formula 1 was far from the fastest ticket in town. A joint initiative between the British Consulate-General in Montreal and the John Molson School of Business designed to promote British engineering ingenuity saw visitors pouring over a sectioned full-size model of the Bloodhound SSC land speed record car, allowing the curious to have a glimpse of both inner workings and outer body.

The GREAT Britain campaign is a long-running effort to showcase the best that Britain has to offer across a range of fields, and the STEM side of the project receives significant support within the paddock. Previous years in Montreal have seen symposia attended by senior personnel from British F1 teams, while McLaren are official partners of the campaign.

The Bloodhound SSC project are aiming to break 1000mph, a 33 per cent increase on the existing land speed record.

In addition to getting a sneak peek of the supersonic machine's internals, fans also had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion of the car's technological advancements. For those F1 fans still unconvinced by the sport's hybrid engines, it was a refreshing power boost.

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On a lighter note, those with sharp eyes were amused to note that for many of those in the paddock - drivers, media, and team personnel alike - were unable to discern between male and female stick figures on the bathroom doors. Rumours of gender identity confusion spread like wildfire...

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Canadian GP
Track Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve
Article type Commentary