Tourists from around the world have arrived in Montreal, and so have the Formula 1 drivers — and their cars.
On Thursday, thousands of racing enthusiasts descended on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve just to take in the atmosphere and catch a glimpse of their favourite high-tech automobiles.
“I’ve been coming here for 11 years,” said Trish Webster, who lives in the United States but is originally from England.
“It’s pretty cool to hear the revving of the engines; that’s what it’s all about. We just love to watch Formula 1. We watch it all the time on TV and we love coming to Montreal.
“Montreal is fabulous.”
The lineup was massive just to get on to Ile-Notre-Dame, where the race track resides and the open house was taking place. Some took one look at the line and left, but to the thousands who stuck it out, it was well worth the wait for a chance to see and hear the cars.
“It’s just amazing. The noise, the ambiance, all the mechanics — it’s amazing,” said Montreal F1 fan Anna Di Pastena.
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Global News spoke to international tourists from Ireland, the United States, Grenada, Venuzuela and more.
At open house day, everyone jostles for a position on pit row just to catch a glimpse of their favourite car
or their favourite driver. By far the most popular on Thursday was Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes-AMG-Petronas.
“I’m a big Lewis fan for many, many years. I follow him all over,” said Di Pastena.
“We love getting to see Lewis up close and personal,” said Webster, who was decked out in Lewis Hamilton gear.
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Another group of about a dozen Hamilton fans all had matching hats and t-shirts.
“We’ve coined the term ‘Lewis Nation’ to show support to our champion Lewis Hamilton,” said Shaka David, who spoke for the group. He claimed the group has met Hamilton in person numerous times, and that the star driver knows many of them by name.
Montrealer Lance Stroll’s hot pink Racing Point-BWT-Mercedes car attracted attention as well. A certain Italian car brand still boasts some die-hards, too.
“It’s number one in Italy! Ferrari,” exclaimed Montrealer Nello Feliziani, who was waving a large Ferrari flag.
Kim Reimer of Tallahassee, Florida has been making Ferrari hats in the shape of the cars for 16 years, and dozens of people asked for photos with him.
“I put 112 hours into this hat. I started in the end of February and finished probably first week in May,” he told Global News.
So what is it about high-tech cars driving around a track that creates such devoted fans?
“It’s the speed and the personalities. Anything can happen,” said Aiden Slaney, who came from Ireland to watch the race.
“The atmosphere from fans is incredible. I love the strategy, how differently the races can turn out with teams doing different things trying to offset the others,” said Zoe Gray, an 18-year-old fan from England.
“It’s the smell, the noise, the people. It’s just an exciting time of year. It’s the beginning of summer in Montreal,” said Montrealer Gino Larivera.
Festivities will continue here at the track and all over the city all weekend long. It all culminates with the big race on Sunday.