It may not have the glitz and glamour of Monaco, but Montreal is right up there as one of the most popular destinations on the Formula One calendar. Not only are the grandstands always packed full of knowledgeable and passionate race fans, but the circuit is set just a stones throw from the cosmopolitan heart of Montreal, a party city that only gets better when F1 rolls into town.
On Thursday evening all the drivers were invited to a cocktail party at L’Arsenal, a funky art space in one of the city’s fashionable areas. Most of them seemed to enjoy the chance to sample one or two non-alcoholic ‘mocktails’, but Nico Rosberg was quite keen to get away. The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS star, brimming with confidence following his second place in Monaco, had cut an engineering meeting short in order to make it to the party on time and he was desperate to get back to the track to pick up where he’d left off. F1’s biggest workhorse eventually left the track at 10.00pm.
The circuit itself is set on the picturesque man-made Île Notre-Dame in the St. Lawrence River and you’ll often see people fishing not far from the paddock gates. One man who was keen to take full advantage of the beautiful surroundings before the race weekend kicked off was McLaren’s Jenson Button. The 2009 world champ racked up 75km on his bike on Wednesday, all of it on cycle paths, but it must have seemed like a walk in the park for a man who regularly takes in Ironman triathlons.
Another of the paddock’s bike fanatics is Mark Webber, although the Red Bull man is more into the motorised variety having raced them in his youth. Before heading to Montreal, the Australian made a whistle-stop trip to the Isle of Mann to take in the notorious TT motorbike event. He was thrilled to see his chum John McGuinness win a race, and it obviously left him craving an adrenalin fix because as soon as he arrived in Montreal he tried his hand at skydiving in an indoor windtunnel. “After that I have no desire to jump out of a plane,” was his response. Best stick to cars, Mark…