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How Montreal has ridden North America’s F1 wave



In fact, this year marks the 45th anniversary of the first race in Montreal, notable also for the maiden victory of local hero Gilles Villeneuve.

Aside from breakdowns for economic reasons in 1987 and 2009 and 2020 and 2021, the circuit later renamed after the Ferrari legend has been on the schedule almost all the time.

Notably, Montreal carried the torch for F1 in North America during a period of 1985-88, 1992-99, 2008 and 2010-11 when there was not enough interest to sustain racing in the US.

American fans, sponsor CEOs and corporate guests had to travel north of the border for the annual Grand Prix.

The race somehow bounced back last year after the imposed COVID disruption, with a very successful event showing that the Canadian Grand Prix can thrive even with two races in the US. This year’s event sold out even before the previous season ended.

Fans who committed to buying tickets at the time had an added bonus: Lance Stroll now has a car capable of racing in points.

The promoter of the Montreal race is Francois Dumontier, president and CEO of promotion organization Octane Racing Group.

The company, previously independent, was acquired by powerful telecoms giant Bell Group in April 2021, whose portfolio also includes the country’s English- and French-language F1 broadcasters, TSN and RDS.

The pair have been partners of F1 for 30 years and their current deal – struck a year before Bell bought the Montreal race – will run until the end of 2024.

Dumontier has been the promoter of the Canadian Grand Prix since 2010 and has been involved in the event in various roles since 1994.

Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-22, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-22, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

“Just before that, I was working on parks, cities,” he recalls. “Since the city leases the track to the promoter, I was the liaison between the city and the promoter Norman Legault. One day Norman came to me and said I had a job for you. Then I left the city and then Start working in F1!

“Because I’m from Montreal and Quebec, I’m more of a hockey fan. Of course, I know Gilles. I’m not following racing, but I’m passionate about the sport.”

Dumontier gradually moved into more senior roles in the organization.

“When I first started, I was director of operations,” he said. “I was actually on the ground helping to set up the stands and stuff like that.

“In 2009 we lost the game and I was up the small ladder at the company and there was a dispute between Bernie Ecclestone and Norman. It was a contract issue between them.

“It’s really a battle between two people. When we lose it, everyone in Montreal, when I say everyone is the government, the hotels, the restaurants, they realize how important it is. That’s why we’re all together Trying to bring it back in 2010.

“I was a corporate vice president in ’09. Then one day, Bernie called me. He said, ‘We need to go back to Montreal.’ I think the team was putting pressure on him to go back. He said, ‘Can you come London? ’ This is where we started the discussion.”

With former promoter Legault now gone, it was Dumontier who brokered the deal that brought the race back on the schedule in 2010. He helped broker a financial support package from federal, state and municipal governments that made the event a realistic commercial proposition.

“The structure I created was completely different from Norman’s,” Dumontier said. “When we lost the race in 2009, everyone realized the impact of not having a grand prix. Everyone wanted to make sure it would come back. So they all worked with me to get the race back on track.”

“The national, the province, the municipality, and then the independent agency Tourism Montreal, they’re all putting it together. They don’t have any stake in our business. But they support the economic impact of this event, and having the race in Montreal is a big challenge impact on visibility.”

Alex Albon, Williams FW44, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Alex Albon, Williams FW44, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Photography: Zak Mauger / motorsport pictures

Essentially, each of the aforementioned entities makes a financial contribution to race sponsorship fees that go directly to the F1 organisation.

“They actually send money to F1,” Dumontier said. “It doesn’t come through my office. They cover a part (of the cost) and we do the rest.

“I would say the federal government, the provincial government and Tourism Montreal each contribute about 30 per cent. And then the municipal government, they don’t provide that much money, but they provide services, power on-site services, things like that.”

The arrangement is clearly working for all parties, and it turns out that the race’s deal was extended through 2029 back in June 2017, just months after Liberty’s ownership. Two more years have since been added to make up for canceled COVID-era events, setting the current end date at 2031.

An unusual aspect of the deal is that the local government owns the site, while Octane leases it out.

“The track and the buildings are owned by the city,” Dumontier said. “So we leased the track and we had a lease with them that matched my contract until ’31. We raced other races many years ago. We had NASCAR, we had IndyCar. But now it’s just F1.”

It’s easy to forget that Montreal is a temporary venue, returning to normal park use after games, so there will be significant construction costs each year.

“Our cost is because the track is temporary,” Dumontier said. “We rented the stands and we needed to put up walls and fencing because we moved almost everything after the game.

“I’d love to have a permanent venue, like every other competition in Europe, with the key almost on the door. But that’s not our case.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, others on the grid

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, others on the grid

Photography: Andrew Ferraro / motorsport pictures

The city has traditionally owned it, making upgrading the circuit’s facilities a complicated process, and Quebec’s long, harsh winters always make the job difficult. The race has often been criticized for its infrastructure being behind the times, but a brand new pit pit was built in 2019 and has been well received by F1 and the teams.

It’s a huge and much-needed step, but Dumontier says there’s more to it.

“We’ve improved things a lot more around the team, when you go through the car park, things like that,” he said. “We’re more in a long-term project now, let’s say a five-year project, where we can improve things both on and off the track. I’m also the president of ASN, so I do both.

“I think the teams and the paddock clubs are settled now. It’s part of the five-year plan, what can we do now? How can we improve the fan experience in the field? Whether it’s the food, or the access to the stands. It’s something we reflect on every year a part of.”

Montreal, with eight years left on its contract, may be in a solid position, but no tournament can rest on past glories.

Competition for dates is fierce now, and new venues have raised the bar in terms of what they can offer fans and teams. The extended deal at least helps with forward planning.

“It made us think a lot more,” Dumontier said. “Not just for the next race, but for the long term. And always thinking about how we can improve the fan experience, the team experience. That’s what we do every year to find out what we can do to improve.”

He will have to keep improving, as F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali and Liberty boss Greg Maffei have made it clear that the sport’s “historic” race, in which Canada falls, will have to follow The pace of the new race. Montreal will inevitably always be compared to Austin, Miami and now Las Vegas.

“I feel the pressure, yes and no,” Dumontier said. “Having good races is a good thing. At the same time, I think in 23 or 24 races, you need to have all different types of tracks.

“Yes, we’re part of history. But even without Stefano or Greg saying we want to raise the bar every year. That’s why I’m working with Bell right now, the ability or the money to do it, and the ability to do it.

Francois Dumontier, President and CEO, Canadian Grand Prix

Francois Dumontier, President and CEO, Canadian Grand Prix

Photography: Zak Mauger / motorsport pictures

“It’s a broadcaster, it’s a telco. So in terms of marketing, they can bring a lot. Bell is the second largest company in the country. We couldn’t reach their customers before, now we can.”

Dumontier insists he still has plenty of American fans, even with competition from other competitions.

“Last year 57 per cent of our customers were not from the province,” he said. “So that’s why we’re the biggest sporting and tourism event in the country.

“It’s easy to drive from New York state to Montreal. Montreal has that American city charm, but with a European flair. When you compare the dollar exchange rate, it’s cheaper. So actually I don’t think we’ve really lost our American customers, Because now there are other races.

“I would like to have more races in North America. Because when I was alone in North America, we would talk about F1 once a year in June. Now there are four races in North America and one in Mexico.

“We’re talking more and more to F1. We can talk to them. I think that’s a good thing. I’m not against it.”

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Like U.S. events, Montreal is getting a boost drive to surviveand to some extent it is riding the wave in terms of ticket demand.

“I think the series helps every game in the tournament,” Dumontier said. “It really helps us too, by bringing new customers into orbit, or segments of the population that we want. So I think that’s great.

“But I’ve been in F1 for a long time. F1 is a cycle. Right now we’re in a good place, but we don’t know what’s going to happen in three or four years. So let’s just enjoy it and we’ll see.”


Vandoorne to drive Aston Martin F1 car in Pirelli tyre test at Spa




Aston reserve driver Vandoorne will share driving duties with team principal Lance Stroll, while Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will each drive a day for McLaren.

It will be the Belgian’s first time driving an active F1 car on track since December 2020 when he represented Mercedes in Abu Dhabi testing.

While the Spa test will focus on Pirelli’s no-carpet tyres, it will give Vandoorne a valuable opportunity to sample the 2023 car, helping him correlate with Aston Martin’s simulator work.

If either Stroll or Fernando Alonso were unwell at any point for the rest of the season, his life would also be made easier.

The 31-year-old shared the Aston substitute with defending Formula Two champion Felipe Drugovich, and the two took turns on call.

Dubovic drove the AMR23 for two days during the Bahrain test in February, when Stroll was not present, and he had the opportunity to test drive the AMR23. Since then, the Brazilian has continued to rack up more miles in private testing of the 2021 car.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

As well as his role at Aston, Vandoorne is one of McLaren’s backup drivers and his performance at Spa will also make it easier for him to step into the MCL60 should the need arise.

As well as giving him a general feel for downforce levels for 2023, the two cars share the Mercedes powerplant and thus have similar settings on their respective steering wheels.

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Vandoorne made his F1 debut for McLaren in Bahrain in 2016, replacing current Aston team-mate Alonso.

He then completed two full seasons in 2017 and 2018, the first with Honda power and the second with Renault. He finished 16th at the World Championships in both seasons, with a best finish of seventh.

He was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2018, but has since rebuilt his career in Formula E, winning the 2021-22 championship for Mercedes and serving as an F1 substitute.

He currently drives for the DS Penske Formula E team and is also a substitute for the Peugeot WEC team.

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McLaren “true contenders” for F1 best of the rest tag




McLaren has only scored one point after three rounds in 2023 as it struggles to find the car competitive.

But both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have seen plenty of upgrades in recent races, allowing the former to finish second in a row, while Piastri has finished in the top five in each of his past two races.

Despite being 136 points behind second-placed Mercedes in the constructors’ championship, Russell believes McLaren is a real threat for the remainder of the race behind leaders Red Bull.

“Obviously they’re a real contender for second fastest team,” Russell said of Woking.

“Oddly enough, Aston Martin was clearly second at the start of the year.

“And they don’t seem to be that competitive now. Ferrari haven’t made much progress. McLaren has made huge progress.

“So without McLaren we’d be very, very happy with the progress we’ve made. Leading the midfield, widening the gap and closing in on Red Bull.

“McLaren has just fully embraced it. But that makes you optimistic that bigger strides are possible.

“I believe in my team. I think it gives us the confidence and optimism to take this step towards Red Bull.

“We’re not too focused on McLaren, Aston or Ferrari. We’re focused on Red Bull. We’re trying to make that big step.”

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photography: Steve Etherington/ motorsport pictures

Russell fought his way back from 18th on the grid at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, jumping to sixth at the checkered flag after Mercedes strategists told him 11th was his favorite.

Russell was pleased with the final result, but felt it was “proof” of a “missed opportunity” for Hungary.

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“The strategy tells me that if we maximize everything, the P11 is the most realistic, the P7 is the most realistic,” Russell told Autosport.

“Sixth place without a safety car, without a VSC, it’s a really great result.

“But it also proved that this weekend could be a missed opportunity. I believe I could have gone there with Lewis yesterday, it’s one of my favorite circuits and the car always does well here.

“When you have two cars out there, fighting for second gives you more options, and Lewis is also very strong. If things turned out a little differently, he would also be P2.

“So as a missed opportunity we will learn from it. But the positive side is we are leading Aston and Ferrari.”

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Top speed, car sizes, race weekends and more compared




Formula 1 has relied on junior classes to develop the next generation of drivers, and its teams are eager to snag their brightest talent.

The ‘old’ Formula 2 car was a ruleset rather than its own separate entity, sometimes sharing the grid with F1, and later rule changes made the two cars separate championships.

The second class was renamed the F3000 in 1985 as the series switched to a naturally aspirated engine formula and extended the life of the earlier Cosworth DFV lineage. Throughout the life of the F3000, different engine and chassis suppliers came and went, with companies including Reynard, Lola, Ralt and March among them, all producing cars before the championship became a single specification.

When the F3000 championship began to fade due to declining team interest and declining track quality, the second level of racing was reborn in 2005. Bernie Ecclestone tried to bring the junior championship to F1’s bottom line and, along with Flavio Briatore and Bruno Michel, helped build the GP2 series.

GP2 became the FIA ​​Formula Two Championship in 2017, but many key hallmarks of GP2’s early series have stood the test of time. The GP3 series, a third-tier category designed to compete with the myriad Formula 3 championships around it, was added to the F1 Act in 2010 and became FIA ​​Formula 3 in 2019.

There are major differences in the way F2 is run compared to F1, there are subtle changes in form and there are big differences in the overall performance of the cars. The following are the key areas of comparison between F1 and F2.

F1 vs. F2 – key differences


Formula 1

Formula Two

top speed

220+ mph

208 mph

Minimum weight including driver

798 kg

788 kg




engine size

1.6 liter V6

3.4 liter V6

Approximate Power

1,000 horsepower

620 hp

car size

5.63m x 2m x 0.95m

5.22m x 1.9m x 1.09m

tire size

18 inches

18 inches

game every weekend

One (two for sprint weekends)

Two (one sprint, one feature)

game length

305 km/190 miles

Sprint – 120 km/74.5 miles

Features – 170 km/105.6 miles






twenty two

2023 Pole Times – Red Bull Ring

1 point 04.391

1 meter 14,643

2023 Pole Times – Monaco

1 meter 11.365

1 meter 21.053

2023 Pole Times – Silverstone

1 meter 26.720

1 meter 39,832

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Photography: Simon Galloway/ motorsport pictures

What is the difference between F1 and F2 racing?

In F1, each team designs its own chassis according to a set of well-defined technical regulations laid down by the FIA. For the 2022 ruleset, the FIA ​​has updated the wording of the rules to better define the bounding box within which bodies can be developed and build a system more in line with the proliferation of available CAD products.

It features a range of safety systems such as a roll cage, halo and anti-intrusion panels mounted around the monocoque. There are also anti-collision structures on the side, front and rear of the car to minimize the impact on the driver in the car.

F2 is a single-spec series with all teams using the Dallara F2 2018 model. The car and driver must weigh a minimum of 788kg and feature F1 standard safety features such as the aforementioned crash structures and halos. Use only parts supplied by Dallara, Hewland or sold by F2 promoters.

F2 cars use floor venturi tunnels, which F1 adopts in 2022, 40 years after banning ground-effect aerodynamics. These designs aren’t as extreme as those in F1, but they work on the same principle, and the car is also enhanced with front and rear wings to create downforce. Like F1, F2 cars are fitted with a Drag Reduction System (DRS), which operates on the same parameters as its parent series.

While F1 cars typically reach speeds in excess of 220 mph during a race, with DRS switched on, an F2 car could theoretically hit 208 mph at full low downforce.

What is the difference between F1 and F2 tires?

Pirelli supplies all championships on the official F1 ladder, and F2 and F3 also use the Italian company’s rubber.

F2 started using 18-inch tires in 2020, two years before entering F1. F2 tires are slightly narrower than F1 tires and generally have less grip because of the naturally lower speeds of the junior series cars.

There are four dry-weather tire compounds for the F2: hard, medium, soft and supersoft – with the first three using the same white, yellow and red color coding as the F1. Extra soft textures are indicated by purple text on the side walls. Each car is supplied with five sets of dry weather tires per wheel, consisting of two of the prescribed compounds, with a set of “premium” tires to be returned after practice. Three sets of wet tires are also available – the F2 has no intermediate compound.

Tire blankets are banned in F2, meaning drivers must warm up their tires naturally. This often creates a larger offset during the pit stops, with drivers leaving the pits vulnerable to those who have already completed laps in the new group.

The “primary” and “option” compounds (harder tires are the main tires and softer tires are the options) must be used during featured races, and pit stops are required to replace them. Tire parking is allowed during a sprint, but not mandatory. Since only two dry compounds are used each weekend, Pirelli and F2 decide which tire to use before the weekend. There may be a single step in the compound (for example, medium and soft), or there may be a larger step for greater excursions (for example, medium and extra soft).

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

Photography: Sutton Images

What is the difference between F1 and F2 powertrains?

F1 has used a turbo-hybrid system since 2014, with a turbocharger and a motor-generator set on the rear axle to form a hybrid package. The internal combustion engine is a 1.6-liter V6. By 2022, F1 engines run on E10 fuel, where 10% of the fuel composition consists of combustibles of biosourced origin.

The MGU-K in an F1 car can produce up to 160bhp for a total power output of around 1000bhp. Figures for F1’s current four powertrain manufacturers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Red Bull Powertrain) vary but are all believed to have efficiencies in excess of 50%.

F2’s single-spec powertrain is produced by French manufacturer Mecachrome, which briefly participated in F1 in 1998 and 1999, and took over Renault’s engine program. The Mecachrome unit was a 3.4-litre V6 engine, virtually the same one used in the F3, but with a modified turbocharger from Van der Lee. It produces around 620bhp and is driven by a six-speed Hewland gearbox.

To ensure fairness in powertrain supply, Mecachrome units are randomly assigned to teams, as there may be minor differences in overall power output.

F2 is currently being used as a test bed to assist F1 in developing more sustainable fuel, using Aramco-produced fuel with 55% of its content from sustainable bio-sources, with the aim of increasing this figure to 100% by 2026/27. The Saudi oil brand replaced longtime supplier Elf as the sole producer of the F2 fuel.

How much does F1 cost compared to F2?

In recent years, Formula 1 has been constrained by a cost cap of about $135 million through 2023, with some minor adjustments for inflation and other ancillary costs. The cost cap covers most development and operating costs, but excludes driver salaries, salaries of the team’s three highest-paid employees, travel costs and marketing expenses. As Red Bull found out in 2022, violating this cap carries a range of penalties depending on the extent of the overrun.

The bulk of this budget comes from the FIA’s prize money, investment and sponsorship mix. Some teams, such as Red Bull and Mercedes, are self-sufficient in terms of bonuses and sponsors and do not require direct input from their ownership structures.

F2 teams have much smaller budgets, and with the series’ fairly limited reach, teams will rarely start the season with a full sponsor portfolio ready to fund every race. As such, drivers should pay for their rides through their own sponsors or a driver academy.

Depending on the team, the budget of an F2 driver can vary from 2 million to 3 million euros, and can even exceed this budget to get a seat in a better team. To keep costs down, F2 limited the number of employees working on each car on race weekends and designed the cars to be relatively cheap. A team can buy a complete F2 car, without the engine, for around 500,000 euros.

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

Photography: Glenn Dunbar/ motorsport pictures

How do drivers get from F2 to F1?

To compete in F2, drivers must hold an A or B international FIA license. They cannot conduct private tests on F2 machines, only the group tests offered by the series. There are also restrictions on the single-seater cars that drivers can test in private, and if a driver is double-duty in another category, they must commit to racing in F2 in the event of any conflict.

Depending on a driver’s final standing at the end of the F2 season, they may receive Superlicense points to help qualify for F1. To obtain a super license to compete in F1, a driver needs to earn 40 points.

The distribution of Super License points is:

end of season position

SL points

first place


second place


third place


fourth place


the fifth place


sixth place


Number 7


number 8




No. 10


These can be applied cumulatively over the course of three seasons.

F1 VS F2 weekend format

F1 has been running in the same basic format for years, with FP1 and FP2 taking place on Fridays, each one hour long. FP3 races are also one hour long and take place on the Saturday before the three-stage qualifying format in place since 2006. F1 races must be at least 305 kilometers in length (excluding Monaco) and must not exceed two hours in duration, with a three-hour window if any red flags are raised.

However, sprint weekends are different and that changes for 2023. The only practice session kicked off with Friday’s race, followed by qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Sprint qualifying and the race are both held on Saturdays, with 2023 seeing six sprint weekends for added variety.

F2 has a practice session lasting 45 minutes on Friday, with a half-hour qualifying session later in the day. It’s effectively a time trial and drivers just need to maintain the fastest lap at the end of the race to secure pole for Sunday’s race.

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Photography: Red Bull Content Pool

The sprint race takes place on Saturday, using the same grid as qualifying, but with the top ten swapped. The number of laps “equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 120 km (100 km in Monaco)”, according to the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system, the score is finally dropped to eighth place, and the fastest lap points are awarded to the top 10 competitors.

The F2 weekend’s featured race “should be equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 170km (140km in Monaco, 160km in Budapest)”. It features mandatory pit stops where drivers must use both primary and optional compounds during the race. If a driver pits before completing the sixth lap, the mandatory stop does not count. This information is also not recorded if a driver stops under the Virtual Safety Car unless they are already in the pits when the VSC is triggered.

F2 attempted three weekend races in 2021, but the practice was generally unpopular and canceled for 2022 due to gaps left on the calendar. Prior to this, the main race was held on Saturday, and the starting position of the sprint race was determined by the results and the reversal of the top eight.

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