Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – spectators’ experiences

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Tell us about your experiences of visiting the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

You may wish to include:

  • When you visited the track
  • Where you watched from
  • How easy it was to get to
  • How much of the track you could see
  • What support races there were
  • What you liked and didn’t like
  • How much it cost and whether it was good value

Please use the reply box below to leave your comments.

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103 comments on “Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – spectators’ experiences”

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  1. I had the pleasure of actually RACING on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve during the Canadian Grand Prix in 1980 and 1981.

    In those days they used to have a “curtain rasier” event just prior to the F1 race. In my day it was a “vintage car” race and we got Friday Practice and Qualifying, and a 10 lap race on Sunday. We got full driver privledges which was really little more than an “Driver/Pilote” armband (Canada is bi-lingual) but that was a pass to EVERYTHING! Pits, paddock, parties and press. I remember the circuit as very smooth and very fast and had a blind right-hander which could be taken flat out in my meager car, that was always a bit un-nerving and one had to rely fully on the flagman if there was an incident ahead.

    A “fan” sent me a photo of my car running along the waters edge and the advertising banners were all in French……..that shot, taken from high on the top row of a grandstand , looking DOWN on the circuit is easily confused with a scene from Monaco.

    MY memories are all positive and as a side note I also RACED at the US GP (1973 through 1981) when it was run at Watkins Glen. I ALWAYS raced as #38 but that’s another story. Safety Fast!

  2. This was my first GP outside the US-I would highly recommend this city and track for your first in-person exposure to F1 racing. You stay in a hotel room in a great city-near plenty of nightlife and nice places to eat. You travel to and from the track in 10 minutes by modern train. The course itself boasts the convenience of a street circuit with lots of aspects of a true road course-high speeds, some minor elevation changes and lots of swerving turns through park-like settings. I went in 1981 to see Williams vs. Piquet vs Gilles in the Ferrari. Again in 82 under very different conditions-Gilles was gone, the track renamed for him-with Paletti’s tragic accident on the start underlying the sad nature of the weekend. Lastly in 89 I think to see Senna vs. Prost with a daring pass for the lead entering the hairpin. Memorable races all-each containing a nugget of Grand Prix history. I understand the event is sold out this year-at this place I can see why.
    Man-I would go again in an instant.

  3. yes i went to the gp of canada in 1996. It was the race when villeneuve got his only podium there, with a second behind damon hill. It is a race that i would not mind going back to, but with a grand stand seat, and with a group of friends, instead of my girlfriend at the time. They are not good company, during a f1 race, mostly if they are not nicely seated.
    The gp of canada 1981, was the first gp, i have a clear memory of, and being there was very nice.
    The last gp i went to see before that, was the 1992 mexican gp, so it was a while, and i really enjoyed it.
    It was a nice trip, by car from florida, to washington, new york, boston, niagara falls,and to montreal for the race. I had the chance to see the great greg moore. Who would think at the time just a few years later , he will die in a race in california.
    Overall a very nice race track, and very good f1 vibe, outside of it.

  4. I was all set to go into my tale of my 1997 trip to the CGP, Jackie Stewart at the Delta counter, childhood idol angle, Jacques Cousteau irony, silly French taunting from Peugeot personnel, Mika sex god revelation, tragic Panis tale etc… but the heck with it. Who is #38? And can he just post the photos somewhere with a vague reference to the rest of us where they can be found?

  5. “I had the pleasure of actually RACING on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve during the Canadian Grand Prix in 1980 and 1981.”

    You didn’t happen to meet the circuits namesake, by any chance, did you?

    But how cool is that, that you actually raced as part of an F1 event. Great stuff!

  6. i am going to my first grand prix at montreal its costing a bomb as we live in the UK so its a bit far to go to your first GP but you have to start somewhere… but i need help is the general admission ok or do you need to have a seat to see… my mates went to silverstone the last few years and said its easy getting in area that are not the general admission areas so is it worth paying the extra

  7. I am going to canada this year and would be happy if anyone would comment on the good spots in GA to view the race!!

  8. Andy Smith (Canada)
    28th March 2008, 16:53

    Montreal is like monacco in a sense.There is a terraced st down by the river in Montreal where locals go..pop the trunk,turn up the music,hot french girls in bikinis having a few Sasperallos etc.Great view of the race for free& party Canadian style.
    Be sure to visit "Old Montreal" on your stay

  9. "hot french girls in bikinis having a few Sasperallos etc." I can’t wait. I feel good I am single now! :-)

  10. Amerk F1 fan
    15th May 2008, 9:06

    I went to the 2007 race. Set in the grandstand on the start/finish line directly across from the McLaren garage. A three day pass was something like $450. Getting from the hotel in downtown Montreal via metro/subway was very helped there were lots of fans going to the track to figure out transfer at one station. You can’t see that much on start/finish..just as they come down but there are large TVs with alternating French/English commentary (also broadcast on FM radio) so you didn’t miss anything. Bit of a long walk from the metro station to where I was sitting and on the first day I made a wrong turn because there was no sign!
    There were two support races: Ferrari Challenge and Formula BMW. Those cars move slow compared to the F1s!
    Weather was perfect all three days. Everyone was friendly but I have heard beware of pickpockets. Food was probably reasonably priced for a sports event $5.75 for a beer.
    I decided not to go again this year since I have other things I want to spend my money on. But I definitely would again. Hopefully they will keep the race in Montreal for us North American fans since the US Grand Prix is no more. Perhaps in 2009.
    Between the various races you can walk around, sit near the lake that was used in the 1976 Olympics.
    I suppose the only thing I would really complain about is the price but F1 is a true experience.

  11. I will be attending this year, I can’t wait only 3 more weeks as of this writing. I hope that it will be a nice day with plenty of sun shine, we will be sitting in Section 22 right after the hairpin. Never been there before to the track that is, been to Montreal 3 times before. I can’t wait maybe I’ll see some of you there.

  12. Mauricio L.
    28th May 2008, 21:48

    Can somebody tell me where is the best place to go see the race if I have the less expensive tickets?
    ($75 CAN)

    Thank You very much!

    I’ll tell you latter how it was…

  13. Montreal is the only race I have attended and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a rich race weekend. The city is fantastic, Canada’s most “European” city, and it comes alive on race weekend. You will find and entire street blocked off for Ferraris on display (and Jaguar the year I went), the nightlife is insane and the circuit is pretty much in the city so access is easy. I sat near the start/finish line, so we didn’t see any passing, but there was a huge screen across from us, and we did get to see pit-stops. The one thing I remember most clearly is the deafening sound of the cars that just doesn’t come across on TV. Ear-plugs are a must.

  14. Just got back from the race weekend and it was fabulous. Montreal is a great party city and great place to visit. So to answer all the questions.

    We visited the track for the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix.

    Our seats where on Grand Stand 22 Section 1 Row F Seats 6 and 7.

    The track was very easy to get to by Metro, just take any train to the Berri Uqam station then transfer to the yellow train, and take it one station to Jean Drapeu, and you’ll be right at the track entrance.

    From our seats we could see the cars go by towards the hairpin then come off the hairpin and go down the back straight.

    There was the GP2 race, Ferrari Challenge, and GT3 cup.

    I liked everything about it, bathrooms were convenient, food and drinks were convenient and not super pricey. Nothing really to complain about.

    I got my tickets online and for the whole weekend it cost me $500 USD including shipping for 2 tickets.

  15. Christopher
    12th June 2008, 21:07

    Here is everything I learned (well, almost…) attending the Canadian GP, which I was lucky enough to experience June 5 to 8, in the year 20-08. This was my 1st Grand Prix experience and I drove (beautiful drive!) up from the N.E. part of the US the day before Friday practice. First of all, as stated before, Montreal is a little slice of Europe right here in N.A. & truly a wonderful city! I stayed in a hostel which was moderately priced (approx. $35 USD/day) and was lucky to stay in a privately owned place to park my car.

    I purchased General Admission tickets for the whole weekend for just north of $100 USD. The metro in Montreal is extremely efficient and cost effective. You can get to the track from most parts of the city in less than 20 minutes & your dropped about 5 minutes walk from the track. The atmosphere was wonderful around the track all 3 days I was there. I arrived early each morning and gates were promptly opened at 7:30 a.m. to let everyone in. You can bring almost anything inside the venue with you! They had no restrictions on cooler sizes & don’t even bother to check what’s inside. Of course, this means you can save $5.75/beer (only 12oz.) if your smart and pack a good lunch (burgers, dogs, etc. are about $5 each). The track has maps and signs which direct you to all pertinent Grandstands & General Admission areas. I walked to almost every conceivable spot on the track where you could see the race from and found it confusing figuring out where you were once in a while. Bathrooms are EVERYWHERE (I literally never waited in line) and kept in good condition considering the number of people at the track. Concessions are located all over the track so you never have to go far to get anything you may need. There are booths all over selling all kinds of souvenirs (Race Program $10, Canadian GP T-Shirt $35, Hats $40). Quick tip, at the end of the race everything was 2 for 1, although sizes are limited it’s worth keeping in mind. Also, Ferrari & McLaren and to a lesser extent BMW had specialty booths set up everywhere with team gear. It was a little disheartening there were no Williams, Red Bull, Honda, etc gear available.

    Anyway on to the more important stuff…for anyone who has never been to a GP, there is NOTHING like the excitement or the sound of F1 cars making the way around for the first time!! You literally get goose bumps and I would highly recommend coming equipped with earplugs for when you get really close (trust me). General Admission viewing is LIMITED at best. There are all kinds of obstacles to contend with, including trees which look purposely placed to obstruct views. Also, forget about climbing said trees, you will have security getting you down within 5 minutes, I tried it. Apparently, it’s not enough that Vodafone has 10,000 signs posted, plus two cars racing around the track heavily advertising…they had signs which clearly block the view of the track from some of the best spots. Security is also quick to get you out of any openings to the grandstands where there are views. While I made the best of Friday & Saturday with all this, you still get very limited viewing and are lucky to see the cars for more than 5 seconds at a time. On Sunday, forget it! There are people everywhere clamoring for pictures and the slightest view of the cars. If you don’t get to the track early on Sunday, your done. I arrived at 6:00 a.m. and was able to scratch out a spot down near the hairpin. I highly recommend having a foldable lawn chair with you to mark your territory & allow you to rest. I grew very frustrated on Sunday with the crowds and ended up using my pocket radio to tune into the broadcasters while I walked around getting different angles. In fact, many General Admission ticket holders seemed to be listening to the race more than watching. There are big screens located at strategic spots, but they aren’t the best and forget about hearing over the engines. So, would I go again…? Lets put it this way, WHEN I go next year I will have a seat in the stands. I enjoyed the race enormously & don’t regret doing the G.A. this time around. It gave me the opportunity to explore the track, lay out in the grass & find some shade.

    The support races included those mentioned above, but there was no GP2. Instead it was Formula BMW race with drivers as young as 15. I enjoyed the final, with an American driver taking the checkers & plenty of action.

    1. Hi Christopher.
      I’m going to the canadian grand prix for the first time.
      I’m also from New England and planning to drive to montreal.
      Are you going this year. If so we could meet up to go together.

      let me know!

    2. hi christopher im going to canadian grand prix 2011 can you help me whit the name of that hostel ?

  16. Did I put GP2 sorry I meant to put Formula BMW.

  17. Jonatas Neiva
    13th June 2008, 16:57

    I have to say I completely agree with Fernando.
    I was there for the 2008 Grand Prix du Canada and also had General Admission tickets. But when I go next year, I’ll make sure that I spend the extra money to have grandstand tickets as the hassle of trying to find a good spot to see the race will be eliminated. The hairpin seems to be the best spot to see some action
    (i.e. Felipe Massa’s double pass / Robert Kubica’s crash in 2007) and that’s where I aim to be next year.

  18. I was there for the 2007 race and the 2008 race this past weekend. The city is wonderful, great restaurants, bars and people. The track is easy to get to as long as you use public transportation. My only complaint is the lack of food and drink choices at the track. It is really bad, one brand of beer (Bud) and the food is very limited (hotdogs, burgers and the like) and awful.

  19. Hi,
    I’m gong to the Canadian GP in 2009 and am planning to buy my grandstand tix as soon as I can. I’ve been trying to figure out which section to buy them in and am torn between:
    – Section 1 – Start-finish with views of the pits and hopefully the entrance to turn 1 (not sure, though…any advice?). These are the highest price, but I’m wondering whether the advantage of seeing all the pre/post race activities and the pits outweighs the possible lack of passing action here.

    – Section 15 – Facing the hairpin with what seems to be a view of the cars entering and accelerating out of the hairpin. I’ve heard it’s the best vantage point for seeing overtaking, but am wondering if it’s worth missing the pit action and the view of the cars at full speed on the straight.

    Any advice on what you would suggest out of these sections, or another section that is better?


  20. Definitely hairpin. I sat on the straight across from the pits, and you’re pretty far away, so the action is pretty distant. The ceremony is short and also distant so you end up watching it all on the screen. The cars are so fast at that point, flat out, that they are just a blur. At the hairpin you get the best chance of seeing overtaking and the screen is ideally situated. Have fun, and remember your earplugs!

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