• Canadian Grand Prix

Organisers react to student threats

ESPN Staff
June 4, 2012 « Kobayashi confident of strong showing in Canada | Grosjean eager to bounce back »
Fans traditionally get to access the pit lane on the Thursday before the grand prix © Sutton Images

Faced with major student protests in Montreal, Canadian Grand Prix organisers have decided to cancel its popular 'Open day' event.

Held the Thursday before first practice, the free event allows fans to walk around the pit lane and watch the teams assemble the cars in their respective garages. Friendly conversation on the pit wall between Formula One personnel and visitors is a common sight.

However, a student group recently announced its intention to disrupt major events held in Montreal in order to show its disagreement with the Quebec government over a raise in university tuition fees. The conflict is entering its fifth month and is currently at an impasse.

"Following a serious examination of the situation, made necessary by public disruption threats and the difficulty to measure their precise validity, the organisers 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", a statement read.

Canadian Grand Prix promoter Francois Dumontier said the cancelling of the event makes him "extremely sad" and expressed his "sincere apologies to the F1 fans and, among them, a good share of our spectators who appreciate this annual gathering with the Word Championship teams."

"When we finally made the decision, we weren't exactly happy, being fully aware that this activity is an important part of the appeal and the tradition of true friendliness at our event", he added. "Considering the various disruption threats made public recently, the free admission and the naturally openness character of the 'Open Doors' day, revealed some risks that we could not neglect. Under these circumstances, cancelling the 'Open Doors' day was the only action we could take. Unfortunately, for the fans and our spectators, it was impossible to escape from such responsibility."

A student protest is scheduled to take place in Montreal's subway system on race day, as fans head towards the circuit.