The 2011 Canadian GP – Sunday

Sunday 12th June 2011

If I could sum up today in one word it would be wet!

Used to the British GP held in British summertime we went well prepared (or so we thought) with waterproofs, hats, an umbrella and a poncho …yet somehow we still got soaked to the skin!

The morning was drizzly and the support vehicles getting stuck in the mud kept the crowd entertained. We covered up well and we remained dry, albeit cold as the rain stopped. It was really strange listening to conversations around us – there were some big F1 fans but also some that didn’t have a clue about the sport – all they knew was that F1 is cars that have four wheels racing around a track. I don’t know if it was the rain but the atmosphere wasn’t as good as at Silverstone – I guess there are home drivers and teams when racing in Britain.

As for facilities, there were quite a few food stands by the back of our grandstand and we were lucky to have a proper toilet block (presumably built for the olympics as they were next to the lake) near us. There weren’t that many merchandise stands or displays at the track (or at least I didn’t see them), I guess that is due to lack of space! I didn’t realise quite how many lakes are in and around the circuit.

So the race itself. It started behind a safety car due to how wet it was and it was an eventful opening stint; sitting at the hairpin is brilliant as there is jostling going on lap after lap there. Hamilton & Button met on the same piece of tarmac on the start finish straight forcing Hamilton to retire, and Button got a penalty for going too fast behind one of the safety cars, putting him plum last. He started his charge as the rain started up again and was red flagged.

 

A lot of people got up from the grandstand and went and sheltered but we stayed where we were for the majority of the red flag, scouring the sky for any sign it was going to stop raining. Huddled up we kept relatively dry for a surprising amount of time, eventually getting damp around the edges. I thought I’d been at Silverstone in some rainstorms (2008 anyone? 1998 also stands out in my mind) but that was nothing like the amount of water that fell on Montreal. I honestly thought we’d gone all that way and we weren’t going to see a race as the sky was just black as far as the eye could see. When the rain eased off marshals and circuit officials gallantly tried to clear some of the water, but it was a loosing battle as once more the rain would start up again.

Finally the sky started to brighten up and there was hope of a restart. I had a spare jumper in my bag and as the rain eased off I changed into it – the t-shirt I had on under my waterproof jacket had got damp at the bottom which had soaked upwards! So although my waterproof hadn’t let water through, it had come up from the bottom soaking me anyway.

As you will have seen at the time, it was a great race. If I remember rightly (and I might not as its hard to keep up with the race when you’re there, so combined with my memory and who knows what I’ve remembered!) Button was back to last after tangling with Alonso and had an absolute stormer of a race to not only claw his way back up the grid, but to catch Vettel and capitalise on his mistake on the last lap to take the win. All through the race we were cheering Button on, along with the Force Indias and Lotus Renaults, but I didn’t actually think he would be able to win! It really made sitting out in the rain worthwhile.

After the race ended we all went on the track and we made our way down towards the pits. The straight between the hairpin and the final chicane at the pit entry didn’t feel that long, but that was probably because it was so exciting being on the track! A crowd was by the wall of champions but we still managed to get quite close which was surreal. As we were exploring the start finish straight, an even heavier downpour started, so it was lucky the race had ended, or it would have been red flagged all over again! Peering over the pitwall we could see the cars in parc ferme – if I ever get to attend a race with paddock/pit lane access I definitely want to wander down to see what is going on there! A few million pounds worth of cars, all parked waiting to go through scrutineering.

A row of security guards were soon coming down the start finish straight to get spectators out so we couldn’t spend very long watching the pack up process, or get any further down the track. We returned to the hotel wet and tired, intending to get a hot shower and go experience more of Montreal. In the end we couldn’t face going back out in the rain and ordered Dominos pizza to be delivered to our room (what did people do before the internet and online ordering of food?). It was a good job as I fell asleep mid pizza!

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Montreal on qualifying day

Saturday 11th June 2011

After the free BBQ at the hostel on Friday night we were amazed to see breakfast was also included in the price of our room, and a lovely breakfast buffet was laid out in the dining area of the communal room of the hostel.

Fed and watered we headed to the track, expecting it to take ages but it was really quick. We walked a couple of minutes to the metro station, found the yellow line that the track is on and a few minutes later we were there! We followed the rest of the F1 fans from the metro station to the gates of the track. Room to track was less than half an hour, so anyone thinking of going to the Canadian GP make sure you stay at Montreal Centrale!

I’ve already written about the day at the track in my post The 2011 Canadian GP – Saturday, so I won’t go into that again – but as I keep banging on about the weather this sums up me & Jay:

Jay was cold

..while I got sunburnt!

In the evening we headed into Montreal to meet up with our friends. On our way we passed what quickly became one of my favourite streets in the whole wide world – a display from MINI! Jay eventually got me away from it and we met up with the rest of our group. We went to Crescent St and it was absolutely packed, I haven’t seen anything like it! There were several small stages set up with live music and all the pubs were jam packed, as was the street, all to do with the F1. We had a great night 🙂

MINI Countrymans

MINI Countryman

Crescent St, Montreal

A Day of Two Halves

Friday June 10th 2011

Our last morning in New York and we finally had pancakes for breakfast 🙂 we found a cheap bagel place just off Times Square that did this stack of pancakes for something like $4. If I do go back I’m eating here every morning!

We stayed close to Times Square and got some souvenirs to take home.

A trouble free run back to the airport and we were ready to take off for Montreal. Bad weather causing planes to be in wrong places meant we were delayed a bit but nothing like our friends who were flying the night before in those thunderstorms. Their delays were that severe that they ended up hiring a car and driving through the night to Montreal! Amazing how time makes you forget bad experiences, I remember having issues with the airline (American Airlines) and vowing never to fly with them again, but I can’t remember for the life of me why I was so angry!

I couldn’t believe it when I saw our plane when we finally boarded – it was a tiny tiny jet! About 15 rows long and 3 seats I’ve never been on a plane that small. I have also not experienced fear when flying like it – I was convinced we were going to die! I have no idea why a small plane freaked me out so much, you could hear every noise and I think that put me off. If you’re going to be so illogical that you think your plane is going to fall out of the sky, then why was I perfectly fine on the huge monster of a jumbo jet that we flew over the Atlantic in? 8 hours in the sky in all those tonnes of metal was alright by me, but 1 hour at the most in a lighter, more nimble plane was almost too much. If I could have got them to turn the plane around I would have!

Anyway, I stuck my Robbie playlist on loud, turned the volume up a bit, closed my eyes and clutched the seat arms as if my life depended on it! An hour was soon over and we were landing in Montreal. There is a cheap bus from the airport to the city so we found that easy enough and were soon on our way. My nerves hadn’t quite recovered from the flight, so a bus hurtling along raised, curved motorways with bridges seemed to be the scariest bus journey I’ve been on – I was definitely glad to get to our hotel! And I definitely don’t want to be on the race team at work!

I’d spent ages looking for somewhere to stay in Montreal, and eventually plumped for a private room with en-suite in a hostel near to metro station, Berri-UQAM that is only a stop or two from the track. This proved to be a good idea as it meant we knew where to get off the bus from the airport and gave us an easy way to get our bearings. Montreal Centrale was a good choice – our room was much bigger than a normal hotel room, and cost the same for the 3 nights as a normal hotel would do for 1! Although not the most modern or stylish room, we had everything we wanted and needed. Thankfully the hostel wasn’t too noisy, although it was busy.

We were also lucky that the staff were understanding – it took us ages to check in as I discovered I’d left my purse with my cards in the safe in the hotel in New York! So I had no way of paying and Jay didn’t have enough in his account for the one card he had with him. Expensive mobile phone calls to New York to check they had my purse followed, along with frantic transferring of money online into the account Jay had a card for, and eventually we were sorted!

Also an added bonus of the hostel was that they organised plenty of events for the people staying there – including a free BBQ on a friday night! So we had some food there seeing as it was free, before heading out to explore a bit.  The city had a real party atmosphere, and we hadn’t even made it to Crescent St which seems to be the main party street.

You can’t really tell in this next photo but I am wearing a strappy vest top whilst Jay has a hoody on – this summed up the weather in Montreal. I was just right and Jay was freezing, he definitely preferred the heat of New York!