F1 Winter Break
Threat of protests prompt Canadian GP organisers to shelve fan event
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Jun 2012   |  1:46 am GMT  |  115 comments

Organisers of the Canadian Grand Prix have cancelled the traditional open pit walk for fans on Thursday morning at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the wake of threats of protests over the race weekend.

The province of Quebec, in which the largest city is Montreal, has been gripped by student protests against a planned tuition fee hike since February and on Saturday street demonstrations in the region took place for the 40th consecutive day. More than 2,500 people have been arrested since the onset of protests with tensions having risen further recently following the government’s passing of a law aimed at restricting the right to protest.

Some protest groups have suggested they might use this week’s F1 race as a platform from which to further air their grievances and that has now prompted race organisers to act, the circuit on Sunday announcing that the ‘open house’ pit lane access that is normally made available to fans on the Thursday of the meeting had now been shelved.

A statement on the circuit’s website read: “With regret, the Grand Prix du Canada announces today the cancellation of the popular ‘’Open Doors’’ day, originally scheduled for the morning of Thursday, June 7. Following a serious examination of the situation, made necessary by public disruption threats and the difficulty to measure their precise validity, the organizers came to the conclusion that it is necessary to restrain the access to Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and precisely the F1 pit lane, on the day preceding the first sessions on track.”

Canadian GP president François Dumontier was quoted by the local Montreal Gazette as saying he was “extremely sad” to have had to cancel the free event and apologised to fans who had planned to attend.

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Student protests cause cancellation of pitwalks on thursday, yet in a country on the brink of civil war everything goes ahead as planned. I don't even what?


At least the Canadian students don't want to ban women from voting or standing in elections, like the Bahrain protesters and the opposition party Al Wefaq ... Strange that so man people supported the subjugation of women and the cancellation of the Bahrain GP ... Or were they just bandwagon jumpers?

Colin Bremner

As a Canadian residing in Dubai, I cannot help but laugh at the prejudices that abound... Teams in turmoil and fear about visiting Bahrain due to legitimate protest, but 'controlled explosions' of suspect devices in Monaco; cancellations of access in Canada,are treated as second-page news?


I'm not reading too many reports of Canadian police firing tear gas into residential property. Shame we can not say the same for Bahrain...



Smacks of an attempt to turn public opinion against the protestors, to me. "The pit walk is cancelled, and it's all their fault!"


It's not a case of "turning public opinion", Why risk a possible security breach? The bigger question, to which we don't know the answer is, Is F1 in danger of becoming the platform for getting your grievences highlighted on a global scale? Only time will tell! Bahrain was the template and I wouldn't be surprised given the current situation in Spain to see Valencia being the next target


Well it is their fault. They have the cheapest education in the country, and they're protesting an increase to bring it in line.

More of this handout culture. If you can't afford to pay back a loan or pay upfront to go to school, work until you can! Higher education is a privilege, not a right.


Yes. The best way to start your working life is to be saddled with $20-30k of debt!! Nothing like trying desperately to dig yourself out of a financial hole for several years, only to end up at a net value of zero at age 30-35!


money is not objective though..

maybe you should stop buying products from china etc. They are cheap due to poor workers pay and environmental regulations.

Maybe you should pay more for your energy, because in the future governments will have to pay for the consequences (like how it is currently with old waste from the past.. cleaning rivers, nuclear dumping etc).

As i said, money is not objective. People are paid great figures for value that is so abstracted.. such as F1 drivers (which is the opposite of objectivity).

Hence your rationale is fallacious.


Nice one Landon, how will the poor ever get an education if that is your stance on the matter. Why not extend it to healthcare, i.e if you can't afford healthcare insurance don't get treated for sickness.

Higher education should be a right, and in countries where it's free they have some of the highest rates of research, science and breakthroughs in the world. The less fortunate can't always help what situation they were born into.


I live in Montreal and the students protest have caused some hundreds of dollars in damage: burned police cars, broken windows, the government has not managed to make an agreement with the students and we are already 6 months into this mess. It can get nasty since the majority of protesters are young studens (on energy drinks), they have planted smoke bombs in the metro 2 weeks ago and major traffic congestion during rush hour... I think this is more about image than anything else... anyhow, let the race continues


Formula 1 being inconsistent? never! 😉


Probably a very wise decision. The new legislation passed by the government to curtail groups of people gathering is akin to Orwell's 1984 anti-anarchy mentality, and people here are really shocked by it. We all thought Canada was a free speech haven. This is soviet era KGB type mindset. If a group of more than 10 people want to stage a protest, they have to ask for permission first, or they'll be arrested!

No doubt the legislation will eventually be overturned by human rights groups and lawyers, but in the interim Quebec is a tinder pot.


If kids in a primary school carry on sulking over something that is impractical, unfair, selfish and disruptive to everyone else then the school TELLS them to shut up and carry on as normal. This is acceptable because they are children and don't know any better. I don't see why there should be a change in attitude for over entitled student who will STILL get cheaper tuition after the hikes than the rest of Canada.

It gets to a point were people who refuse to listen to reason (or arrogantly refuse to budge until they have an advantage over everyone else) have to be TOLD to go. In the UK I was appalled at the behaviour of student protestors (violence etc) but to my mind this is worse. Read the BBC world feed about Syria if you want to hear about oppressive regimes: comparing Canada to Soviet Russia shows you know very little about Soviet Russia.


Haha, sorry, yeah, I was holding my one month old son, typing with one hand, and forgot the "not" before "good thing...".

I think Scandinavia is a very fair example, simply because they are small. They don't have a vast population to claim taxes from and they're not oil-rich (though Norway does benefit from some, but no more than Canada). Sweden, Finland and Denmark are all doing well and yet somehow afford to offer higher education for free. Choosing a place like the UAE would be an unfair example. In terms of GDP per capita, Norway is ahead of Canada (and the USA), but Sweden is almost the same; Denmark and Finland are a little behind. In terms of overall GDP (PPP), Canada is three times the GDP of Sweden and about five times that of Norway. The fact is, we pay very low taxes here for what we receive (free healthcare and subsidized university education, among many other things); if income tax was raised a small amount, I am sure it could easily cover the cost. I, for one, would be happy to pay more so that we have a healthier, more educated population on average, as it would likely cost less in the long run. Of course, you'll never get the general population to vote for that platform. 😉

Ok, lets bring this down to a simpler level: if someone said to you "hey, I know you don't pay much for X now and we said we'd keep that price capped, but we're going through a tough time and we need up the cost for a bit; what we'll do is increase the price for a few years and then drop it again... sound good?" ... but then after those few years, they say "oh, never mind what we said about lowering back to the cap we promised, we're actually going to raise it more instead." What would you say? Sounds pretty unfair, doesn't it?

Also, they are planning to scale up the tuition costs over several years, so those who are protesting now won't actually see much of a dent in their lines of credit. They are pissed off about the principle of the matter. The government promised that the increased tuition costs were temporary, and then not only broke that promise but now want to raise them further. The fact that Ontario has higher tuition is of no relevance. The fact that the USA has significantly higher tuition is also of no relevance. When you promise something to someone and then go back on it, and then go further in the opposite direction, that's not a good thing. When you get elected on promises you can't keep, then you should feel the repercussions.

Yes, everything costs money. That's blatantly obvious; however, there are ways of making sure that money gets paid. Increases in taxes are one method.

To me, every argument against this just reeks of Animal Farm-esque propaganda. "I will work harder" ... "the latest report says everything's getting better!" ... "Napoleon is always right". Sorry, but just taking it down to the root of the problem, where students walk away from university completely tied down with debt, it just shows how skewed society is toward inflating prices and just accepting that we need to always be in debt. From credit cards to car loans to home mortgages to student debt, it's just ridiculous. When do we stop it? Do we keep just paying more and more and driving ourselves further into debt?

As prices go up, how do you fight it? Do you just say "naw, I think I won't go to university"? Seems like protesting is the only method. Now, what happens when they ignore you for over 100 days? Well, I can see how some are getting a bit radical. Zero concessions are being given to the students, but instead protest laws are coming into place. When do they just give up and go home? If they went home after a few days, I would agree that they're being petulant, but they have been protesting for over 100 days, which I think shows commitment to a cause that they truly believe in.

Lets look at it the other way: the USA has some of the highest tuition rates in the world. Has that made them a better country for it? How about their manufacturing sector? What about engineering and design? Is there less poverty? (Having personally ridden a bicycle through Detroit, I would say no) Has it made their economy stronger? I would say no to that one as well. Of course, you could argue Greece is having severe problems (another free university country), but there are clearly far more confounding factors at play with them.


Ideal world? ALL of Scandinavia has free university. I don't see their economies tanking.

I'm from Ontario. I graduated with $22,000 in debt. Fair? Why are we trying to make them pay more, rather than the rest of the country pay less.

Nice attempt at a slippery slope argument. So unless there's bloodshed in the streets, no-one should complain? Just accept whatever we're handed and accept that things are better? At what point do we say no more and protest?

I agree that throwing rocks and setting things on fire is a good thing, but painting all protesters with the same brush and calling them petulant is quite naive and narrow-minded. They have a perfectly valid reason to protest, and rejecting it because of a few radicals smacks of naivety.


Scandinavia is a very small part of the world economy, if you want to have a proper debate then use a representative data sample, not one that suits your needs specifically.

I never said it was fair, but fairness is not an all or nothing thing. Yes it's a bit unfair that education DOES cost, and has fluctuating costs from country to country but its VERY unfair that there are people on the verge of genuine poverty and repression that have no way of protesting or defending themselves. Some protesters in the western world seem to have got the 'protesting is automatically right' vibe and refuse to compromise because its their 'right' to do whatever they feel entitled to.

Stop putting words in my mouth, people can protest what they want but it gets to the point where common sense must prevail. If they refuse (as the students seem to be [reasonably at any rate]) then the government has a responsibility to prevent disruptive behavior, the students are in the ENORMOUS minority if you consider then general population of Quebec or Canada.

I don't think you got your last paragraph right, at least it doesn't make sense. I'm assuming you DON'T think vandalism is good, however if you had really read any of my points you would realise that I'm not rejecting the protesters because of a few radicals, I am rejecting them because they are greedy, spoiled, entitled youngsters who haven't made the jump from 'I WANT THAT!' and getting it, to 'Oh well, EVERYONE has it tough at the moment, lets all buckle under together'.

To me the entire argument of the protestors smacks of naivety, the lack of the ability to realise the actual world situation. The sooner they get a reality check from the people who actually have to struggle through the international crisis, the better.


So you think that all students should have to go into major debt in order to get an education? That's fair?

Or maybe you just think that only wealthy people should get to go to university.

Sure, life is good in Canada, but that doesn't mean that we should completely ignore it when things get a little worse (increased tuition, draconian protest laws), or laugh off any attempt to make life even better.


In an ideal world, yes tuition should be free. However in the grand scheme of things that cannot be the case (especially when Quebec gets cheaper fees, how is that fair on the rest of the country?)

As it is now, it is unfair on everyone else, cant you see that? I personally don't like the fact that tuition costs (for your information I currently owe £13,000 and am now working abroad to pay for my second degree (which will cost me ANOTHER £36,000)

However, causing a massively disproportionate amount of disruption and damage to the economy over a very small issue (look at the figures of increases, after the hike the fees in Quebec will still be lower than the rest of Canada) is childish and arrogant. The line seems to be "we are entitled, therefore screw the rest of you", when there is so much other stuff to worry about in the world I am inclined to take a very unsympathetic stance, particularly if they bleat on about "restrictions on freedom" please... Watch the news.


I don't support the student's gripes over the tuition hikes, which are rather small, and still gives Quebec students by far the lowest rates in Canada. However, the anti-demonstration emergency legislation passed by the Charest government is a disgrace.

We Canadians like to moan and groan non-stop about America, yet we tolerate this nonsense from Charest. I can guarantee that if a U.S. government (state or federal) enacted this type of legislation Canadians would revel in mocking the U.S. as anti-democratic.

Having said all that, I had made my travel plans to come to Montreal early to get into the open house and am very disappointed it's been cancelled.


You are incorrect. New York city and a few other American cities already have tougher rules on the books concerning public protest.


I thought the rise was a total of 87% phased in over a few years? if thats the case not exactly a small rise....

After 4 years at uni in the UK my daughter owes £35k and thats at the old tuition fee rate, If she went now her debt would be £36K just for tuition, and then loans on the top of that for accomodation and living costs, and yes she did work. i for one don't blame the Canadian students, and i think that they are being made scapegoats by their government.

Shirleen Riffe

Sorry but a curt little patronizing apology doesn't mask the cowardice shown by the Canadian organizers. What this does is say that you bow down to terrorists. Maybe surrending is a "French" thing. If this was going on in the US there would be no surrending to overprivledged children.


I'm not sure you understand the social make-up of Canada. As much tension as there is between the French and English here, I don't know ANY Canadian who would think of Quebecers as either cowardly or overprivileged. They're usually seen as the obstinate ones who have a very high sense of social justice. So, you might be seeing these protesters fight for fairness as greed. Please remember that Canadian ideals are generally different than those in the US, and try to understand instead of judging using the tint of your own glasses.


French? Really? I love how Americans deride the French, when it was the French that helped "liberate" them from the English. Maybe it was the same French that invaded England and seized control back in 1066... Or the French that were instrumental in overthrowing Libya?

Over-privileged? Right, because only wealthy people deserve to get an education without ending up $20-30k in debt by the end.


Feels like this year's script is written by any B grade action movie writer. New winners every race, new protests, Williams fire, Lotus names conflict, Ferrari being underdog and Alonso being the Constructer winner (so far), Mercedes-Sauber-Williams podiums, Schumacher tragedies, Mclaren pits.... and the movie hasnt been half done yet.

I will love this year for many years to come! 😀


Better than the John Grisham political 'thrillers' we've had in past years (crashgate, stepneygate)!


I read this earlier today. These students are a real pain to the economy of Pq. Like little children who must have a toy they want.

Education costs? They already have lowest costs in Canada. What do you want for your desert? Perhaps you'd like the Canadian GP to move to Toronto where the money is?


Education is one of the most important things to a society; funding for education should be INCREASING not being shifted to the lowest wager earners who are already guaranteed to be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt by the time the graduate with almost no chance of getting a real job.

This generation is angry because we've done everything we've been told we have to do to get a job and a shot in life but now we're stuck with no opportunities and no chance to succeed and are basically indentured servants working stupid menial jobs that are a waste of our skills and talents to pay off our mountains of debt while we wait for the baby boomers to retire/die. and by that point it will be impossible to accomplish anything more than breaking even anyway.

Justin Bieber

You have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of the issue we have here in Quebec that's its embarrassing to read comments like yours.

Do you know why the QC gov wants to hike the university fees by 75%? Are you aware for the law passed to restrict the right of assembly? Are you aware of all the corruption scandals involving the party in power for the last 5 years? Are you aware that corporate taxes have been lowered to 10% in QC, the lowest in north America? Did you know that banks no longer have to pay taxes on capital gain in QC?

But who cares about that, right? Its really all those kids working on minimum wage that needs to pay their "fair share". As you said so well: "These students are a real pain to the economy of Pq. Like little children who must have a toy they want."

As an F1 fanatic and ticket holder for the race, it saddens me to see the planned disruption for the race. But there is huge social movement going on at the moment and its more important than an F1 race or a summer festival.

Anyway, don't worry the race will go ahead, the "spoiled brats" wont get in the way of your Sunday entertainment.


Well said!

Paul du Matire

I'm with you! I think the Quebecois students do the right thing, the Welfare state is an achievement that has taken centuries to produce, and it has to be protected!


Same with the debt culture! No longer should anyone be allowed to do anything without incurring significant debt! Want a car? Debt! Want a house? Debt!! Want an education? DEBT!!

Well, except for wealthy people. All people are equal, but some are more equal than others, amirite? 😉

Let me guess, you own shares in some banks...

Darryl Ephraums

Well said. Strange how people will go to any number of lengths to defend the dominant powers that rule them.

Paul Camgreen

Stunningly superficial...

1) 75% hike in the tuition. Yes, high, but if put in place will still be LOWER then the majority of provinces in Canada and still LOWER then what I paid to go to university 15 YEARS ago in Ontario.

2)Law restricting the right of assembly; this will be overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada do doubt, but Charest was running out of options. Short of rubber bullets and mass arrests in numbers never seen, what was he going to do?

3) Corruption scandals; point out ONE government that HASN'T been corrupt or is corrupted in Canada in the last 15 years! Chretien, Mulroney, Harris, Harper...

4) Corporate tax levels; what is PQ to do? With draconian language laws to protect French sovereignty. The costs associated with maintaining that level within PQ. And a shortage of real opportunities, the only carrot left is to keep money in the pockets of the companies. Money which can be used to HIRE and PAY more employees.

5) Banks with capital gains...here's one I agree with you on.

I'll be there at the Grand Prix. I'll be upset that things are cancelled due to the threat of issues. But I'm NOT on the side of the students. You pay LESS then anyone else and now you are being asked to pay more of your fair share to obtain an EDUCATION. Now your 'right to protest' is really turning into a 'de-mockery' of democracy. I would LOVE to know how much LOST revenue these disruptions are going to cost the city of Montreal from an international level...


Yes, because starting a career saddled with debt is the best way!

"I will work harder - Napoleon is always right!"

After all, university is for wealthy people only, right? Don't want those smart, poor kids ruining it for everyone else by getting a higher education without racking up major debt, right?

Imagine the travesty if EVERYONE got the education they wanted, rather than what they could afford?!


Look, I won't argue with you. Just don't forget all the businesses struggling and laying people off because of these free for all protests, students who want to study being disrupted, protesters being violent, terrorizing and bombing the metro, etc.

It's also my understanding that the increases being talked about are over a long period.

It's entire reasonable with the protests we have seen for the police to demand details of protest plans with the passed law.



Are you realizing just now that post secondary education is a major business, with profits in mind? Welcome to reality of the game and world we live in.


Yep, students should have to go into major debt for their educations! It teaches them important lessons, like how interest payments will control their life.

We should buy some shares in some banks, Sebee! It's the perfect time. We can cash in on others' financial struggles!


Instead of cancelling the traditional open pit walk for fans - just cancel all tickets held by students for the whole weekend - simple really...


Prior to the passing of the protest law the majority of people in Quebec were on the side of the government. The passing of the law limiting/making those protests illegal has caused many of those citizens to 'switch sides'; though they still favour the increase in tuition hikes they are firmly against such an oppressive law, and so they have joined the students in the protests. Had the government not passed that law the situation would not have escalated to this extent


That's exactly my gripe with them. Well said.


perhaps you'll be finally happy then when we are all back living in wooden huts and have to go on a treadmill to generate electricity?

education should be free, 100% free. It is the backbone of society.

but you're right, maybe humanity should just regress back into the 1800's.


Do you really want to get into this? I no longer live in Québec, but in that province, a decision was made a long time ago to make higher education accessible to everyone, and so they did. The issue is the "first step" away from this, and make no mistake, it is but a first step. Also, the question weather the quality of education rises with this new money is a legitimate one.

Many other countries have free higher education (albeit often with compulsory military service) and therefore it should not be impossible to do so in a place with some of the highest tax rates the world over.

Lastly, Sebee, try to see things from someone else's perspective, as you sound like a little child upset about not having the toy you want (F1).

Brisbane Bill

Students the world over are protesting about fee hikes. The government have, in my opinion, done the wrong thing by passing laws restricting the right to protest in, what should be, a free democratic society. This has created a credible threat to a disruption of the race far greater than was seen in Bahrain. So what is all the fuss about human rights in so-called un-democratic societies? North America and Canada might become just as guilty if they follow this path.


Special Law 78 requires organizers to give police at least eight hours advance warning of times and locations of protest marches, with hefty fines imposed for failing to do so.


Surely social networking allows the ability to form spontaneous protests with no organisers needed apart from hundreds of anonymous sources/organisers thereby allowing a gathering of many thousands.

No organisers and several thousand protestors means the Canuck cops would be stretched to the limit and it would be difficult to fine an organiser when everyone claims to be a participant not an organiser.


These students tuition ranks among the lowest in North America, not just Canada. Increase is less than a Starbucks a day, too.

Maintaining and expecting public safety is also a valid expectation.

As someone who went to the Pit walk about in 2010, I say I too would be PO'ed at the cancellation of the event by the "1% ers". It was as fun than the race day itself!


Bahrain and now Canada... these political stuff using F1 as a stage for blasting out their messages to the world has been getting pretty tiring...

Just let the sport get on with itself! 🙁


Kay, I agree. If there are genuine human rights issues then that's understandable, but student fees? That's just spoiling it for everyone.


The protests over the increase in student fees led the provincial government to pass a distinctly Orwellian law making such protests illegal. That is what has generated so much anger from all citizens in Quebec, not just students.


Glad to hear that from you Paul. =)

Hope we wont get anymore of these things to spoil F1 anymore.


Bahrain was not an example of "political stuff," as you write, "using F1 as a stage." The race there was an example of F1 being used by Bahrain's ruling regime to portray a false image of peace and normalcy despite continued pro-democracy protests in the country and a bloody crackdown. It was also an example of F1's complicity with this regime and its dirty, anti-democratic dealings. The race went ahead because of financial concerns. It was a dark day for F1, in my opinion.

The protests in Montreal were sparked by the government's attempt to raise tuition by 75 percent, but they have grown to include non-students and all sectors of society. They have been a daily reality in Montreal for months. Protest in Quebec is part of the culture, and these protests are pushing for a new direction in everything from education costs to addressing government corruption.

All F1 fans complaining about politics ruining their enjoyment of their sport need to examine their politics -- F1, in being funded by all sorts of companies and monarchs with dirty dealings, such as Bahrain, is *absolutely* political.


Oh, the threat of protests threating the Canadian Grand Prix ---> I mean, who would have thought, right?

And of course any place where the local population have grievances against the government will use the race as a platform to cause headaches for the organisers.

Yes welcome to the 21st Century!

Lets hope the people in charge put the whole circuit on lock down for we wouldn't want to look back on the 2012 event for all the wrong reasons i.e.

What are the chances of a streaker disrupting qualifying or the countdown to the 5 lights ---> Remember these are students = 99% under the influence.

However, I understand the students grievances for tuition fee hike is never a cool thing especially in these bleak economic times but some battles are just not worth fighting like we found out with our own tuition fee hikes in the UK.


The battle wasn't worth fighting until Bill 78 was enacted.

Bring Back Murray

"What are the chances of a streaker disrupting qualifying or the countdown to the 5 lights"

Would she get a 5 place penalty for that?


99% under the influence? That's a lovely sweeping statement...


Not as good as the one further up about "energy drinks" - the latest substance to corrupt our young people...!


And the fees are only going up by $254 a year. I would be suprised if Protesting hasn't cost them more than that in the 40 days so far.


Exactly. They should be going up by ten times that! Save higher education for the higher classes.

Ever read Animal Farm?


One bad apple spoils it for the whole bunch! Not fair for those of us that plan a year in advance for the opportunity to see the pit lane activity. Why cancel this segment and not the equally protest-vulnerable P1 and P2 sessions on Friday, as well?

Justin Bieber

you need a ticket on friday..


You don't need a ticket to get on the island and cause a rukus. By stopping the pit walk they the organizers have just knuckled under to extortion. The problem will only escalate from here.


I presume because the "open day" lets fans (and potentially evil students) into pit lane, where they could sabotage equipment or plant a bomb - seems unlikely but I guess that's the perceived risk


P1 and P2 are not free events, they are ticketed. Therefore not as vulnerable.

rob in victoria bc

This won't do it, not even close, but if only, if only, Bernie would have Canadian GP in Vancouver.

Justin Bieber

Vancouver is not in a good time zone for a GP


Seemed to work for Long Beach... last I heard, the proposed Las Vegas GP wasn't shot down due to timezone problems.


OMG Now we have to Cancel MOntreal too!

Riots, protests, hunger strikes, arrests, suspension of our God-given rights to free Pit Access! This is too much.

Cancel the race.

Robert in San Diego

What a sad sad day when our racing becomes political.


Racing has always been Political. To have a South African GP or not. Re-instating the South African GP after majority rule.

The Hungarian Grand Prix came about before the Iron Curtain fell because Hungary wanted to show it was close to normal (Hungary opening its borders was what led to the fall of the wall).

Turkey only bought a GP to promote its push to join the EU.

China bought one to show itself as a dynamic modern country and not and opressive communist regime which murders its people or enslaves them to make goods for capitalist west.

Bahrain's motives were similar.

How many of the new countries have produced a sponsor , never mind a driver ? How about a rule which says to get added to the calendar you have to sponsor in team which hasn't finished in the top 3 of the championship in the last 5 years ?

The choice of where the Circus goes always has a political dimension, and we shouldn't be surprised when those with a Political agenda try to use the circus for their own ends.


while i agree with the beginning of your post the bit about the sponsors is just wrong. Bahrain is the majority shareholder in McLaren; where do you think Mubadala and Etihad are from? Almost all of toro rosso's sponsors are based in Abu Dhabi. Air Asia is a malaysian company, as are Petronas and Naza. Aabar is based in Abu Dhabi as well and those are just sponsors i can think of off the top of my head. And the requirement about a team outside the top 3 is just preposterous, people want to sponsor winning cars and be associated with winners; they don't care about being egalitarian with their sponsorship deals.


Hear hear.


Well said.

I feel that most internet warriors feel that F1 and sport in general exists in a bubble (or maybe even a box in their living rooms), that has no bearing on anything else.

Sport provides focus, be it to Bill 78 in Montreal, authoritarianism in Bahrain, or racism in Poland/Ukraine.


politics is EVERYWHERE!!!


Government’s passing a law aimed at restricting the right to protest....

Wow, this is Canada!

While global sport F1 tries to stay aside of politics, once again (like in Bahrain) I only learn about bad things going on somewhere just when F1 gets there!

F1 better recognizes itself as a platform with global impact beyond sport and starts taking a stand in a world where the influence and power of corporations and media by far exceeds those of governments. If it does not, F1 will not just become a political playball but end up being seen by fans and society in general as a propaganda tool for the ruling elites the people is trying to overcome.


well said 🙂


It is a sad situation.

I read somewhere else that there will be an attack on the F1 web sites by the group Anonymous.

I feel sorry for Fake Charlie Whiting from Montreal. He was so looking forward to this Thursday.


And people worry about Bahrain and Brazil...

Justin Bieber

Its a different kind of worry.

In Bahrain and Brazil, people worry about their safety. In Canada people worry about being late for the race by getting stuck in traffic.


It's Montreal.

They WILL get stuck in traffic.

Tornillo Amarillo

No traffic in a Sunday race: you can get to the island only by Subway (or swimming).


Sorry if my post's thong-in-cheek tone wasn't clear.

Anyway, I partly agree with you. It is different. In Brazil and Bahrain it's about people worrying about their safety. But in Canada, it seems to me, who ain't there, it's about the government worrying about protests. What an epic traffic jam that'd be to abort an event on Thursday so that people wouldn't be late for the race on Sunday. 🙂

Bring Back Murray

While its a shame that the pit walk has been cancelled, I guess we should be grateful that the Canadian GP is on in the first place, despite past financial problems. One of the fast, flowing classic F1 tracks with real history to it. You don't have to mess around with DRS, KERS or tyre combinations to get good racing on this track!

(Used to love playing it on Geoff Crammond's F1GP!)


I don't condone using sport as a political tool.

However, I agree with those who state that the two are inseparable - especially when the sport in question enjoys global media focus.

Ironically, Amnesty International doesn't deem Quebec's student 'grievances' to be worthy of mention:-



Its a real Shame. I have been to 16 GP in Montreal and this is the first year I was able to schedule my trip so I could do the pit lane walk trough and it is now cancelled. Being Canadian myself I could go off on a rant against the students for there loose spending habits but I wont. I would like to say that the organizers of these protests should be smart enough to realize that the GP brings a lot of money to the city/province and they should keep there distance. They need to think about the dollars being spent over the race weekend and the tax collected. Every where you go, be it a bar, restaurant or souvenir shop you are taxed. My ticket was taxed and I know that when I spend money at the track everything there is taxed, so that is all money that the provincial government is collecting and can put back into the education fund. Every time the students stop someone from doing something this weekend that puts a check mark in the governments lost dollars need to raise tuition column.


make sure you buy your merch on friday, prices go up everyday and especially on sunday!


Whatever support I had for these students is gone now.

On Gilles Villeneuve's 30th anniversary of his death at the circuit named after him we have these spoilt kids ruining the weekend for everyone.

While the students are at it maybe they should protest to be refunded for whatever education they have already received because it obviously hasn't helped increase their intelligence any.


Exactly. Our entertainment is more important that their struggles to have an education that doesn't come with a hefty slice of debt.

We need to make sure they're not spoiled anymore and ensure they have at least $25k of debt by the time they're done university! That'll teach them important life lessons, right? Or maybe it'll help keep the riffraff out of university and keep it untarnished for the rich kids.


If you want to take the so called higher moral ground then consider it's not just about our entertainment. If Canadian GP isn't a success who suffers?? How much money does it bring into the area?

That is why I said they have no intelligence because they have chosen a very poor strategy to put their point across.

The problem is as usual it's probably a minority who have caused the problem and have enraged a lot of people who otherwise would have been sympathetic to their cause.


"The protests, which have been going on for several months, have hit tourism hard say those for whom Formula 1 week is normally the busiest of the year."



...just as the actions of a few students that claimed they will disrupt the GP, or might actually follow through with it, shouldn't be cast upon the whole group.

There are lots of peaceful protesters. It's like saying that the police during Toronto's G20 were totally justified in every arrest and case of kettling, just because some members of the Black Bloc caused some real damage.

All protesters should be painted with the same brush, right?

Don't kid yourself. Lots of people are still going to the GP, still renting hotel rooms, and still buying food and drink in the city. Note that no-one above said "I feel it's too dangerous to go to Montreal, so I cancelled my ticket". The only disappointment has been that they can't get the free Thursday.


+1 including F1GP


Classic example of the Streisand effect. By making such a noise about the danger of a student protest and announcing the pit walk to be canceled, the promoters have reached the students' goal of making people aware of their situation. Job done. Can the pit walk now happen again?

Tornillo Amarillo

Barbara Streisand...?


The students protest (realizing fringe groups are helping fuel this calamity) will have little effect on the goveernment position. The money from the race will still come to the area. The governments decision to ban protests is archaic and it too will have no effect on the outcome of this issue. This will leave a bitter taste in those of us who scrimp and save to attend a once in a lifetime spectacular event. All I can say is that if those in government that made the decision to ban protests are products of the Quebec education system and the students supporting the disruptive bans are from the same education system they should not raise tuition fees. In fact they should issue refunds and shut down the system and encourage the true students to seek a quality education program elsewhere and learn constructive crisis management and not terrorism.

My apologies in advance to all of our quests to Canada as I am Canadian and immeasurably embarrassed by these negative actions.


Hugely gutting for me. I am flying out to Montreal on Wednesday with 2 friends for my first ever F1 race, having watched F1 since 1994 back in the UK.

I'm really looking forward to the event, and hope that none of this stuff affects things. I've saved hard to be able to do this, I hope the protestors understand that sports fans have nothing to do with their fees. I know it's not easy as I was at Uni only 4 years ago.

Hope the rest of the event goes perfectly! 🙂


Wish you the best in Canada. I started watching F1 since early 70s and the first race I attended was 2008 in Singapore, wished its was Spa tho.

Justin Bieber

Everything will be fine, just make sure you arrive early on race day..


Am I the only one who feels this is something of a knee-jerk reaction from the organisers, putting it mildly? I would have thought it would be fairly straightforward to put in place tighter security on the access points (the circuit being, after all, on an island). They could even have (shock horror) spoken to the ringleaders of such protest groups and made an arrangement such as static protests near the entrances but not within the circuit itself. I wouldn't have thought either would be beyond the capabilities of the organisers or the city authorities, but I suppose that's placing too much faith in people's ability to compromise...

Really disappointed by this, as you can probably gather.

Justin Bieber

I understand your frustration David. The problem is that its not that simple to manage. The main student association are not planning to protest on the island itself, it will be done on the street of Montreal, probably during the evening. what the organizer are afraid of is the anarchist and anti-capitalist groups who have used the student protest as a cover to cause mayhem in the city. They are the one trowing Molotov cocktail to police and trowing smoke bomb on the subway. They could very easily infiltrate the crowd on Thursday and once inside, who knows what they could do. the situation is unfortunate but I think it was wise of them to cancel to protect the GP.


Going ahead with the Bahrain GP set a bad precedent. Protestors now know their voice can be heard by threatening demonstrations at GPs. Sport and politics have always gone together as much as sport would like to believe this isn't so. Lets see on which GP weekend we see a similar situation next before the end of the year.

Tornillo Amarillo

I was in the free Thursday once and I don't think you can see too much activity there.

However is sad to miss it this year, but please don't forget we missed the whole weekend 2 years ago because government money was not enough to confirm the race, and after that now it is secured for some years to come.

These protesters are pacifics and I think they are right not to accept fees hikes, no reason to do that, Canada is so rich.

And it was plenty of room to negotiate, but the provincial government has no idea how to do it, so it's his fault.

Everybody in the world wanted to use Internet to organize protests for being protagonists like in Serbia, the Arabian Spring, etc., and the Quebeckers found something to say about the school fees, that is worthy and better than having protest against taxes on the famous Montrealer plate called "Poutine"!

Graham Passmore

To all the regretably mis-informed who loyally follow James every day for the best F1 insights available on the web. Cancellation of this popular yearly feature of our race here in Montreal is unfortunate and, in my opinion, politically foolish. It demonstrates fear of the mob, something a society never should show. The present Quebec government was duely elected by the majority of Quebecers on a platform that clearly included a planned raise in university tuition fees to bring our province more in line with the rest of Canada. Voting is not mandatory in Canada and university students of voting age traditionally have a poor turnout at the ballot box. "They're all the same, working for the banks" attitude. To winge and cry now that government is putting into action the platform a democratic majority installed them for is immature to say the least. Most of us over the age of 45 would rather they just shut up and do what their elders tell them to do. When they mature, they can use a future election to vote in a party that will rescind any increase. Until then, let government use all powers at its disposal to muzzle this unruly mob of anarchists. Almost exclusively French may I add. We English are raised better. Let us enjoy our motor racing in peace.


Yes, we English are raised to just accept that either university educations are reserved solely for the wealthy, or come with a hefty dose of debt.

Nothing like starting your career $20-30k in debt, right?!


What a sad sad day when our racing becomes political.


Every race has been politicized before it's even taken place. I'm nearly 100% positive that every single race on the calendar has been at the center of some sort of political debate over it's life time. Most of the time it's about local government paying the near extorsion level hosting fees, but many times the very existence of the race was a political ploy of some sort to start with.


I guess with Hockey season now over - and no Canadian teams in the Cup finals to riot about anyway - these have to find *something to yell about.

Craig in Manila

Don't see why the organisers couldn't limit the pit-walk to only those attendees who were holding a paid ticket for the Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

By doing so, it would've kept the vast majority of the protesters out, let the true race fans in, and kept the PR damage to a minimum ?


I think it's a great shame for the fans to miss out on the Thursday. On my second trip to Spa I made sure I got there on the Thursday (only did Quali/Race before) and it was probably one of the best days of the weekend for me.

Got so close to all the drivers, the cars, and got a fascinating view of the garages and pit wall areas. The teams were very open, and you could even have a chat with the HRT guys if you didn't want to brave the scrums at the front-runners!

Also saw the TV crews doing their pre-race footage including DC interviewing Sutil around the track, Karun Chandok taking his bike out for a ride, and being amazed when Rubens just walked past me after taking a walk round.

The Thursday is the day I've actually felt a real part of the weekend, it's a huge shame for people attending Montreal to miss out and I only hope other races don't suffer this.

Obviously there are political issues involved, but I'm coming purely from a fan's perspective.


I support the students, and I support the grand prix.

Naming the protestors as petchulant little brats does little more than cement their opinion of us as a privileged class of grand pix go-ers...

I'm passionate about formula1 - but I shall not allow that passion to be converted into animosity.

Bottom line is - Don't take it personally. This is a consensus protest over human rights at large. The whole thing is a shame...


Having been to Montreal and having snuck in the paddock on Thursday before free day I can appreciate why they cancelled it. There is plenty of ways to get on the island through the Casino and hide.

I think the best solution is to - have the pit walk ticketed on Thursday and Friday. F1 is always taking the p*** to find more revenue and improve their image with fans.

A win-win I say....


I once helped a team that was quite low-budget. The team couldn't afford a ticket for one guy at the Toronto Indy... he talked his way through the gate, somehow slipped into the paddock, picked up some tools and walked through the grid, across the track and into pit-lane for the race, all while wearing shorts! I probably had the most dumbfounded look on my face when he strolled up to me in pit-lane, only 10 minutes after calling saying he was stuck at the gate.

F1 might be a little more strict, but people can definitely get into places where they shouldn't be.

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