• Canadian Grand Prix

Canadian Grand Prix not sold out as protests hit

ESPN Staff
June 7, 2012 « Brawn hints at Schumacher stay | Villeneuve slams 'babies' playing 'video games' »
Scenes such as this - riot police standing guard as protesters demonstrate in Montreal earlier this week - have deterred would-be visitors to the grand prix © Associated Press

Organisers of the Canadian Grand Prix have admitted student protests in Montreal have hit tickets sales for the weekend and for the first time in many years the event will not be sold out.

Francois Dumontier, president of the promoters, explained sales started dipping as soon as the student unrest escalated. "They said they wanted to disrupt the grand prix," he said. "They already have.

"I can't remember the last time we didn't sell out. It's been that long. Depending on the weather, and the hype generated and during Friday's practice, we can sell more tickets this weekend. I'd like to sell everything, but I don't think we will."

He went on to say that pictures of trouble in the city had definitely dissuaded tourists from travelling to the race. The annual open house on Thursday, where spectators are free to wander round the pits lane, was cancelled last weekend amid security fears.

"I didn't want to jeopardise the entire weekend," Dumontier said. "Imagine if someone with bad intentions was standing in front of a driver, or an open garage? Or imagine if the teams had sufficient security concerns that they just closed their garage doors, and fans arrived to see nothing?

"The teams have told me they understand the decision to cancel, but they say it's a shame because they enjoyed it. I took no pleasure in cancelling it."

He also said that extra security precautions had been put in place around the three days of the race.