Formula 1 World Championship 2002 - Round 8
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal

This year I decided to boycott Silverstone in protest at Octagon raising the prices and restricting ticket sales to 3-day tickets only. Now I'd normally have bought a 3-day ticket in any case, but a lot of people can't afford to and, in my opinion, Octagon's move is short-sighted in the extreme - not only are they alienating their existing fanbase but restricting the opportunity for new fans to get their first taste of a live Grand Prix. I'm pleased to see that the plan appears to have back-fired on them - whereas for as many years as I can remember, Silverstone has been a complete sell-out weeks if not months before the race, this year, with only 2 weeks to go before the race, they're now making single day tickets available for all three days, including Race Day!

So, where could I go instead? I've always had a yen to go to Canada and when I found out a 3-day pitlane grandstand ticket would cost me less than a 3-day general admission ticket at Silverstone, the decision was made :-)

still water

Still water (click pics to enlarge)

JPM at Hairpin

Montoya at Hairpin (Sat am)

Rubens and Eddie

Barrichello and Irvine at Hairpin


Ralf at Hairpin


Coulthard at Hairpin

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher at Hairpin


Yoong at Senna (Qualifying)


Kimi on drivers' parade


Villeneuve returning from parade lap

I figured if I was going all the way to Montreal I might as well do it properly, so I flew out the Monday before the race and walked my feet off for three days seeing the city. Great city, great people, and really buzzing in the build-up to the GP. Despite carrying my camera everywhere, I took very few pictures, but include the one on the left simply because I love it (not that there's any way of telling it was taken in Montreal!)

Sarah and Eileen (who Formula-1 Forum regulars will know better as Jardins and Wheelsonfire respectively) arrived later in the week so I had some company with whom to share the sudden grins of anticipation that start to afflict me several days before I go to a GP! But enough of the build-up ... Friday dawned and Sarah and I headed to the track. A real breeze compared to most other circuits I've visited - a short walk, 20 minutes on the Metro and there we were :-)

The photo top right gives you an idea of the view from my grandstand seat ... excellent for seeing what's going on in the pits, but not a lot of good for taking pictures - too much fencing in the way when they're in the pitlane and waaaaaaay too fast down the straight (which is why you'll see no pictures of moving cars from this vantage point!). Sarah however came to my rescue and kindly offered to swap tickets with me for Saturday morning practice. So equipped with a grandstand seat at the slowest point of the circuit (the Hairpin), my digital camera and several sets of batteries I set about trying to get some reasonable shots. Several hundred tries later, I'd amassed the few you see here that I deem respectable enough for public consumption!

It wasn't a wholly altruistic move on Sarah's part, she wanted to see what goes on in the pits, which is possible once again now the infamous screens have been removed from in front of the garages. This it seems was a popular idea, as I also managed to swap tickets with Eileen for Qualifying and so enjoyed yet another excellent view of the circuit from the Senna corner. Not quite as close to the circuit here and it was getting darker as the rain approached, so photos not as impressive, but have included a couple to give an idea of the view.

Sunday morning, an even earlier start but an equally trouble-free journey to the track, and I was back in my allotted seat in front of the Williams pit. Got a few shots from the driver's parade, but Kimi came out clearest so is reproduced here despite looking as if he's in jail. And one of Button on the grid, who happened to be the only driver I could get a clear shot of, for good measure.

Gradually the grid cleared, they set off on the parade lap, the anticipation was reaching fever pitch, everyone was on their feet ... and then the moment I will never forget ... the red lights come on one at a time, the engine pitch rises, the lights go out, the engines scream and, as Murray used to say, "it's Go, Go, Go" ... the noise as 22 cars roar off the grid is incredible, totally outrageous and just about the most beautiful sound I've ever heard! If you're ever wondering whether a pit straight grandstand is the best choice given the relatively limited view, trust me, it's worth it for that one moment alone :-)

Of course, there were other moments too (not least the sight of Schumacher cruising down the straight pouring smoke from his blown engine in Friday practice - a personal highlight!) ... such as Kimi, Ralf and Montoya three abreast down the straight ... such as a perfect view of Ralf's troubled pitstop. I'd like to have cheered Montoya down the straight to victory, but I guess you can't have everything!

At the end of the race, the fans are allowed on to the circuit ... they're not supposed to get into the pitlane but the security guards screwed up on this occasion (I guess Montreal won't win the best organised race prize again this year!) and without the dreaded screens, I managed to get some great shots into the garages as the teams cleared away. I eventually found a perch on the pitwall opposite DC's pit to wait for Sarah to make her way up from the Hairpin (we'd arranged to meet on the pit straight but hadn't actually said where ... somehow I knew she'd turn up at DC's garage eventually!) Then a slow walk back round the track, picking up marbles, comparing notes, becoming aware of the sore feet and aching backs for the first time in several hours.

Montreal was most definitely a good choice ... I'd like to go back sometime, but maybe not next year ... I've always had a yen to go to Australia and Melbourne is beckoning ever louder!

Full race results can be found here


Montoya returning to pit (Fri am)


Sato at Hairpin


Montoya full frontal


Panis at Hairpin

Pedro de la Rosa

Pedro de la Rosa at Hairpin


Ralf at Hairpin


Coulthard at Senna


Button on the grid


Berger interviewed post-race


Williams garage post-race


Renault garage


Sauber garage


Jaguar garage


Arrows garage


McLaren garage


McLaren garage


Pitlane walkabout

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Copyright 2002 - Carolyn Abberley
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