Green Notebook from Pierre Elliott Trudeau International

The ultimate accolade for any politician is to have an airport named in your honour, although to be quite honest if an airport was named after one or two of the modern politicians I would prefer to fly elsewhere, as the naming of the airport indicates the political feelings of the city.

These, of course, change over time. If you follow such matters you will know that Jan Smuts International in Johannesburg is now called Oliver Tambo International.

In a world where little history is studied, kids probably don’t know much about John F Kennedy, but they will travel through JFK, they might also know CDG, without knowing the first thing about Charles de Gaulle. It’s the same with Napoleon Bonaparte Airport in Ajaccio, Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv and so on.

Montreal’s principal airport, once known as Dorval, is now known as Pierre Elliott Trudeau International, a former Prime Minister of Canada, and father of the current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

It needs work…

I used to love the place because it was the entry point to a city that I have always enjoyed, although I have never been in the winter – and do not wish to do so. Why? Because in the winter Montreal is cold. It is so cold, in fact, that the mighty St Lawrence River freezes over, which is hard to imagine in the summer months. The extreme cold is why Montreal boasts “La Ville Souterraine”, the world’s largest underground city. This consists of 20 miles of tunnel in a five square mile area. From this network one can access bus, train and metro stations, apartment blocks, hotels, offices, universities, shopping malls, concert halls, cinemas, the Bell Centre arena and, of course, cavernous parking lots. The underground city provides access to 80 percent of the city’s office space and every day in the winter around half a million troglodyte souls traverse these passageways.

If it is pouring with rain in the summer it is very useful because you can get across town without getting wet, although you need good navigational skills not to get lost in the maze. The good news is that unlike the multi-level railway stations in Tokyo, where even Marco Polo would get lost, there are people in Montreal who speak English and French, although their accents can make them utterly incomprehensible.

Generally-speaking I have a rule not to write too much about the stresses or strains of international travel, because people don’t really want to know, but sometimes these stories are worth telling, in order to get the airline or airport involved to get its act together, by hearing things said publicly they do not wish to hear. The litany of incompetence during this year’s trip to Montreal was the worst I have seen anywhere in the world in 39 years of non-stop travelling. And the same kind of disaster befell many other people. All three partners in our e-magazine GP+, travelling on entirely different itineraries, suffered serious multiple delays (more than eight hours) getting into Montreal – and all three lost our luggage (including cameras). The lost luggage service was there in name alone and after waiting the whole weekend for my bags, which had been promised within 24 hours, we went to the airport on Monday, hoping to see if any progress had been made because it was impossible to get any other information. On the off-chance it seemed sensible to take a look in the baggage hall rather than believing the people there and, sure enough, there it was, standing out from the crowd of black bags as it always has done. Clearly no-one had even tried to look for it.

Suffice to say, by the end of the weekend we had all sworn never to do business again with Air Canada and while we may not be able to avoid the airports (although it had been at least 15 years since my last visit to Toronto, when similar incompetence led to the decision to avoid the place at all costs), this took the pleasant edge off what is usually a joyful weekend.

If you asked a cross-section of the F1 Paddock to list their favourite races, the vast majority would include Montreal. It is a quirky and cosmopolitan city and it has always felt like a big party, with everyone staying in the downtown area and enjoying life a little bit more than usual. It helps, of course, that the Grand Prix coincides with the annual graduation ceremonies and proms. It is a joyful time. It is also Canada’s biggest annual party with as many as 450,000 people coming to town, although only a third of them attend the race. The rest are there to party, to drink, to dance and to canoodle. It is the most important weekend of the year for the city’s entrepreneurs. Hotels are fully booked and prices are up to 10 times normal rates. The problem with this is that there comes a point at which even F1 people decide that there must be better choices, which means that the circus disperses more widely, rents cars which means that everyone is more constrained in what they can do, and the sense of community disappears.

And of course the weather does not help because if it rains at the circuit team people stay inside their hospitality units.

So gossip was thin on the ground. The race attracted a three-day cumulative crowd of 338,000, which was a decent score, and the US TV audience averaged 1.7 million viewers, up 50.6 percent compared to 2019, the last time the race was held. Most exciting was the fact that F1 blitzed all other forms of motorsport in the 18-49 age group in the US and that it was the most-watched Canadian GP in American TV history. This is important as negotiations continue for the Formula 1 TV rights for the United States market. The word in Montreal was that a decision is now close and that there are three serious bidders Disney (which owns ESPN and ABC), Comcast’s NBC, and the TV streaming service Amazon Prime Video. The deal will go to one company, rather than being split up as NASCAR does, although there is a possibility that a small part of the rights may be carved out of the main deal, to provide non-live highlights to other audiences and thus push up the numbers still further.

F1 growth is very exciting at the moment, but for those who are hoping to see a 2023 calendar, there is going to be a bit of a wait, with an announcement not expected until the end of July. There will be some changes compared to this season and it seems that at the moment there are two different drafts of the 2023 calendar: one with 23 races, the other with 24. At the moment both drafts include the Monaco Grand Prix, although it is by no means certain that this will still be there. The difference in calendars appears to be the Chinese Grand Prix, as it is hard to know what the Chinese are going to do because of their attitude towards the COVID pandemic. One of the draft calendars includes a Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, the other does not, but this obviously impacts on other dates. Both drafts apparently include a South African GP, underlining F1’s desire to have its first race on the Africa continent since 1993. This will be at Kyalami, near Johannesburg, but there are still questions that need to be answered about the race because of ongoing political problems in the country.

The other new race will be Las Vegas. Obviously if you have a 22-race calendar in 2022 and you add three races (South Africa, China and Las Vegas), you reach a total of 25, and so some of the current events must disappear. Fortunately Russia has taken care of itself.

At the moment, so they say, France and Belgium are not on the 2023 schedule so I’m not quite sure how we would get to 24 races, but I guess this might relate to a notional new race in France. The suggestion made by Stefano Domenicali last week in an interview with the French sports daily L’Equipe is that there might be a French GP in Nice. Domenicali gave no details, but the rumour mill threw up that the idea is to lay out a street track around the Allianz Riviera stadium, in the Saint-Isidore district, in the Var valley to the west of the city, adjacent to the ring road that loops around Nice, en route to Monaco and the Italian border.

It is a relatively new neighbourhood, carved out of what used to be farmland, with the stadium opening in 2013. It is the home of the local soccer team OGC Nice and is used also by the Toulon rugby club. The only link to motorsport is that there is a street named after the late F1 driver Jules Bianchi, who died in 2015, after a crash in Japan in 2014. This would be incorporated into the circuit.

The history of racing in Nice is quite impressive and pre-dates Monaco, as the first Nice Speed Week was held in 1897, and the celebrated Nice-La Turbie hillclimb, one of the biggest early events, ran from 1901 onwards. There were land speed records set on the Promenade des Anglais and there was a Nice Grand Prix in the 1930s and then again post-war. The 1946 race is often said to have been the first event run to Formula 1 rules.

This all sounds rather a good idea, as F1 has decided against continuing with Paul Ricard and it suits the French Grand Prix promotion company, which is not dependent on Ricard and is headed by Christian Estrosi, the Mayor of Nice.

It is also convenient for F1 that the idea has come up as it is in deep negotiation with Monaco. The celebrated street track is just 12 miles to the east of Nice and while the latter cannot put an F1 track through its port and streets, it could (and should) be conceived as a threat to Monaco if F1 cannot get the deal it wants with the Automobile Club de Monaco.

The shape of the 2023 calendar may be a little different to today, but the signs are that it will begin with a big test/F1 launch in Bahrain, followed a week later by the first race. There will then be a weekend off before a race in Saudi Arabia, followed immediately by Australia. It is not clear what will happen after that because this is the time when China would be fitted in, perhaps back-to-back with Baku, or with South Africa slotting in there. It is clear when one tries to piece together the calendar that there are too many question marks to have any definitive answers. What is clear is that it looks like F1 will have to do two Transatlantic trips each spring as Miami is stuck in May and Montreal will not move from its June date. This is inefficient in every respect, but F1 is bound by contracts it agreed – or has to renegotiate… The desire remains to try to regionalise the calendar more than is the case today.

The desire to grow F1 in the Americas is stronger than ever and current team owners are unwilling to sell because they feel that the value of the teams will increase dramatically as the sport grows and all have big dollar signs in their eyes. The logic is that US sports investors come wading to try to make a profit.

If you don’t have at least $1 billion, however, there is not a lot of point in even trying to buy a team at the moment. Having said that, building a new team costs about the same when you take into account all the money needed and, in any case, a new team is unlikely to be as competitive as a well-established one. This is the frustration that currently exists for a number of people keen to become team owners, not least Audi and Michael Andretti, not to mention Hitech Grand Prix and some others still in the shadows.

There is no appetite within the sport at the moment to add new teams because no team wants to reduce its share of the revenues (even if they are increasing) and take on more rivals. Michael Andretti’s only real hope of being granted a new entry would be if he could bring Ford or General Motors into the sport, then the doors would open very quickly and an 11th team could be put together and everyone would see value in adding another manufacturer to F1.

If one cannot buy an existing team and it makes no sense to build a new one, the only way for those with ambition is to invade the sport from within. At any given time, a number of F1 teams are not being run very well, and so there is always potential for outsiders to be offered jobs if the team owners think they could find better management, if indeed the owners recognise that there is a problem – which is not always the case.

If you look back you can see this happening in the last 15 years with the likes of Christian Horner, Eric Boullier and Frederic Vasseur moving up from the junior formulae, with others such as Franz Tost, Jost Capito, Mike Krack, Andreas Seidl and Otmar Szafnauer coming in from manufacturer roles, and Gunther Steiner from running a successful composite business in the US.

There are not many team principals who have come through the ranks, with the obvious exception of Mattia Binotto and Sauber’s previous team principal Monisha Kaltenborn and one can, I suppose, add family members to this, notably Claire Williams, although in the distant past there were also folk like Bob Tyrrell, Ken Tyrrell’s son.

Toto Wolff is unusual in that he is an investor who has moved into management roles.

This is where, perhaps, there is potential for takeovers, with people offering both money and management skills and then gradually gaining ownership of a team from within. That was a route that allowed Ron Dennis to take control of McLaren way back in the early 1980s and how Wolff got into an executive role at Williams. One suspects that Zak Brown may be doing something similar at McLaren but shareholdings do not need to be declared until they reach a certain level, so for the moment there are only whispers that he is a shareholder. Those who bring in big sponsorships can sometimes take shares rather than a big commission…

The other way would be new to F1, but not unusual in the business world where weak companies are  targeted by bigger players, who win control by buying up shares and gaining enough influence to oust the original owners. This is, to some extent, what happened when the late Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne won control of Chrysler back in 2014.

It was not unusual in the car industry for investors to kick out the founders of businesses. Henry Ford’s first company, the Detroit Automobile Company, was shut down by investors. His second, known as the Henry Ford Company, saw him ousted and the firm renamed Cadillac, and it was not until his third attempt that the Ford Motor Company emerged.

The same was true of Audi which emerged only because its founder August Horch was ousted from his own company in 1909 and so started a rival business called Audi. Horch in German means listen which translates into Latin as Audi.

Of the current F1 teams Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Alpine all belong to listed companies, while there is now talk of McLaren being listed on the stock exchange at some point in the future.

It might not be easy but one can imagine someone seeing an opportunity to buy control of Aston Martin in this way in order to get control of the brand. Mercedes owns 20 percent of Aston Martin shares and, if it wished to offload these, a buyer could acquire them and then hoover up smaller shareholders (which make up more than 50 percent) by buying shares at a premium. Under current rules a purchaser would not have to declare a significant interest until they have 25 percent of the business, but there are all kinds of ways to gain control with, for example, debt-equity exchanges, in which debts are acquired and turned into shares, thus diluting the share value but making the company more solid. The devil is in the detail, but weak companies are exposed and disgruntled shareholders are prime targets.

There seemed to be little new on the driver front in Canada, although some of the known deals did get confirmed with AlphaTauri’s Franz Tost saying that Pierre Gasly will stay on in 2023. The other key point was that Montreal Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s team principal, said that that Oscar Piastri will be racing in F1 in 2023. This is no surprise as Alpine will lose control of the Australian if he does not have a race drive next year. There is presumably a date by which a deal must done by Alpine or Piastri can go to market as a free agent. Thus there is some pressure on Alpine to find him a seat.

The only obvious choice for him at the moment is Williams, where Nicholas Latifi will lose his drive at the end of the year, if things do not pick up. This has led to suggestions that Williams might change engines, but that makes little sense because it is too late for 2023 and that would mean only two years to get up to speed with the current engines in 2024 and 2025. It is probably better for Alpine and Williams to talk engine deals from 2026 and beyond. This is not a bad move for Williams as the team would become the second Renault team, rather than the fourth Mercedes operation.

It would also give Williams an impressive driver line-up and provide the team with time to develop its own young driver Logan Sargeant, who needs more time in Formula 2.

That aside there was little gossip in Montreal, although there were some interesting faces on the grid, including some people from Melbourne who had dropped in to look at the pit facility at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, as they need to start work on upgrading the facilities in Albert Park, which are now 25 years old and outdated. In much the same way, Steve Hill, the CEO and President of Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) was in Montreal to see how the Canadians run a Grand Prix. Las Vegas is making rapid progress in preparation for its first race in 2023 with the aim being to build a permanent three-storey pit facility similar to the one in Miami, with garages on the ground floor, hospitality on the second and on the roof, with Race Control and other necessary facilities integrated into it. This would be turned over to other uses for the rest of the year when F1 is not in town.

By Sunday night, everyone was keen to get home, although there were the delights of the airport and the flights home still to come. You know that tiresome moment at an airport when you (and your hand luggage) have to go through a security check. Working security is not an easy job – because people are in a hurry and do not like queuing. Things are bad at the moment and Montreal has adopted Disney-like policies of hiding queues. While one does not expect the security folk to be Rhodes Scholars, it is a job that can be done with grace or humour. It’s dull work, explaining why one cannot carry a whole tube of toothpaste, and confiscating nail scissors because they are lethal weapons…

With all the paraphernalia required by itinerant F1 journalists, it is not unusual to be stopped, but normally the security people quickly see that nothing is amiss and off you go to find the gate.

Alas, with a shortage of staff since the pandemic (the primary problem for all the troubles at the moment), there are new folk employed who do not have much experience. The security girl I encountered insisted that I had “a multi-tool” somewhere in my multi-pocketed bag.

“There isn’t,” I said, with as much patience as I could muster. No professional traveller carries a multi-tool. It is plain stupid. I’m not saying that she should instantly believe everything, but after 25 minutes going through my bag (no exaggeration), it all felt a bit too much, particularly as others were queued up behind waiting to have their bags inspected.

“You’ve already looked there,” I said, politely, on several occasions. She got excited when she found some pen refills, but could not figure out how these might be deemed to be murderous devices, although I was on the verge of showing her by that point. To be honest, I’ve known dogs that were smarter than this person, but finally there came a moment when she had to admit defeat. I was not a professional assassin, nor an international terrorist. She would not get promoted for finding my hidden weaponry. She shoved the plastic tray at me gracelessly, leaving the bag unpacked, as she did not have the mental capacity required to put it all back together again so it fitted. There was no “Sorry, I was wrong”, nor a “Sorry, I have wasted your time because I am incompetent”. With Air Canada at the moment there was no need for “Sorry, I’ve caused you to miss the flight”, because I doubt the airline managed to get a single flight out of Montreal on time last week.

As I walked away from this experience, I chuckled. There was one pocket that she never did find – even if it didn’t have a multi-tool in it…

Still, with every cloud there is a silver lining. The barman at least was good at his job…

75 thoughts on “Green Notebook from Pierre Elliott Trudeau International

  1. You always get one “jobesworth” at every airport. In Corfu on Sunday it was the Eurowings gate person for my flight to Marseille via Dusseldorf (yes – really). I am disabled, though capable of walking short distances and climbing the aircraft stairs, albeit a bit slowly. In contrast to every other loading arrangement, she insisted that slow movers and disabled would be loaded last, which meant we got dumped on the very hot tarmac at the end of a very long queue to enter the aircraft via the sole air stairs. What I can’t do is to stand for anything longer than a few minutes. I squatted on my carry on bag for around 10 minutes, while the folks inside the aircraft sorted themselves out. Luckily a very helpful German lady spotted my distress and not only helped me to my feet but insisted on carrying my bag not only to the seat but put in the locker as well. Made up for the Eurowings gate dork.

  2. I think you’ll find it’s ‘Just In’ Trudough, though whether he’s just in because he didn’t get such a big majority or just in (as opposed to ‘about to make an entry’) is debatable and, to the best of my knowledge has never been opinion polled…..

  3. I have never flown into Montréal and escaped without baggage issues; either lost or crushed every time.

  4. Spent my first 25 years on this planet in Montreal and I do not recall a specific prom period. Perhaps this is a new phenom. With regard to airports, this is presently Canada’s national disaster. The private contractors were quick to layoff when Covid hit but slow to rehire when restrictions were lifted. And the wages! You couldn’t buy a garbage bin in Toronto on a screener’s annual salary. Shameful.

  5. Thank You again Joe for the above very read worthy piece ! I saw you walking by whilst the SKY people
    were filming , but you did not have your blue polo pet on ! Makes it hard for me to to do my favorite past time whilst watching ( SKY ) F1 ; Spot Joe !

  6. I live in Quebec City, 250 km east from Montreal, and never use Air Canada for traveling. The service is about the same as a banana republic and you better use any other airlines.

  7. You don’t want to travel through Toronto either, Joe. The delays at Lester B. Pearson International Airport (which unlike CDG or JFK somehow ended up being know as YYZ) are even worse than in Montreal, if you can believe that. An 8 hr delay here is nothing unusual these days, and some individuals have actually been delayed for days rather than hours…

    1. I did not intend to travel through Toronto. I avoid it like the plague. The problem was that Air Canada cancelled my direct flight to Montreal and rebooked me on one via Toronto, even though there was another diect flight from Paris a few hours later. I presume this was because I had a cheaper fare.

  8. I wish I could see the race calendar draft versions, but of course, I can wait.
    However, concerning the notes a few paragraphs below on the possible shape, I don’t see much point in not holding the early-season Middle East events on consecutive weekends like this season, as nothing with this particular double-header.
    A Jeddah-Melbourne double be unideal given distance & jet lag + the fact jet lag is worse when travelling west-east travel than the other way round.
    Beginning the season with a Melbourne-Sakhir-Jeddah triple would be better jet lag-wise + minimize travel, but oh well.
    Additionally, in this scenario, Bahrain GP would have to occur on March 5 because the 19th is the latest possible Sunday for any early-season Middle East event with Ramadan commencing on the 22nd-day sunset.
    Seemingly COTA won’t move to early-season, not that I’ve truly expected this to happen anyway, albeit this would be ideal as in this case Canadian GP would be the only solitary NA event.
    Chinese GP at least temporarily returning to the late-season flyaway phase would give the event a greater likelihood of finally reoccurring via 5+ months longer lead time, though.

    Concerning Williams’ PU supply situation, yes, not much point in changing for three seasons only to possibly change again for 2026, although the lead time for next season isn’t necessarily too short given AT’s (under their previous identity) move from Renault to Ferrari power for 2016 became official in December.
    Another factor is Toto once saying Mercedes’ preference to have one less customer team these days, so never say never, but still, honoring the Mercedes supply deal that expires at 2025-end is perhaps ultimately better.

  9. On behalf of all Canadians I apologise for the delays and hassles you and your team encountered arriving and leaving our great Country. The staff-shortages are at the heart of these problems, but that’s what you get when you pay people more to stay at home through the pandemic that they can earn working for a living. You are right to boycott Air Canada in the future as even in ‘normal’ times their service is a disgrace to the Maple-Leaf they paste on their aircraft. That all said, Montreal is still a great destination, as is Toronto – provided you avoid their airports 🙂 Andy

  10. I have a mate who had his nail scissors confiscated at airport security. As soon as he was through, he went to a shop in the departure area and bought another set! Lunacy. Air Canada is an embarrassment Canada I can assure you, the words ‘piss up’ and ‘brewery’ come to mind.

    1. A FOAF, rightly distrustful of airline food, tried to take her home-made sandwiches on a US domestic flight only to have The Man confiscate them as a “security risk”. No, I’ve no idea how you can bring down a 737 with two pieces of bread and a lump of cheese either.

      Though I appear to be the only person in history who’s travelled with Air Canada and not got a horror story out of the experience. I did worry that the plane’s wings were going to snap off but was assured by my tame aviator that the wings on a Boeing 787 are supposed to bend like that.

  11. Apropos the naming of airports; once Canada’s former PM Stephen Harper had left office a petition was circulated to force him to change his name to Calgary International Airport.

    He didn’t.

  12. Joe, I’ve been puzzling over why you don’t accept a pundit slot with Sky. Is the money not right?

    I doubt you have had a chance to see their live broadcast at thee circuits. Perhaps you have. It is much too long and could happily lose an hour at either end. And could just as happily lose the bulk of “resident experts”.
    Pare it down to just Brundle, commentator Croft (is there an alternative?), yourself, and possibly a couple of pitlane reporters and Davidson at the Sky pad. Wow. It sounds a lot better already.

      1. I’d take that as a compliment, you are obviously far too talented.

        Talking drivel is their speciality.

    1. Sadly there have not work d out that “less is more”. I have up on Sky as I can get an F1 TV subscription. The only thing on Sky I miss are Martin Brundle’s grid walk and Ted Kravitz Notebook. The only problem with F1 TV is they think Will Buxton is entertainment, which he is not and their commentary team is toosy turvy. When it’s Ben Edwards and Wattie or Ben Edwards and Jolyn Palmer it’s excellent and their technical “anorac” is brilliant too. Ge really knows his stuff. But I switch on for Quali and the race as I have discovered that “less is more”.

    1. Certainly one of the best tracks still on the calendar, but unfortunately (as I believe Joe mentioned a few weeks ago) the fact that it’s so difficult to get to and from easily makes it a likely ‘victim’ in Liberty’s search for ‘destination’ venues.
      After all it’s far better to have an insignificant or mediocre circuit that’s easy to get to and that will attract people (and all their lovely spending money) to an area rather than just a circuit, isn’t it!

  13. Can’t the F1 group force Montreal to take a May date? The several crossings to North America makes no sense.

    1. Maybe, maybe not, but staying in June is better weather-wise unless the race took place within the month’s latter half.

    2. Pairing Montreal up with Miami would be very tricky due to weather. There could still be snow in Montreal in early May. Not usually, but not unheard of either. And then Miami would be unbearably hot in June.

      1. Not really snow anymore when looking at historical averages & especially this year, but Montreal is generally decently warm throughout May, although temp fluctuation risk is higher in the 1st half.
        For Miami, temps aren’t an issue in June (especially the 1s half), as June is only marginally warmer than May in both average high & daily mean.
        Besides, this June, the two weekends before Canadian GP had their respective Fri-Sun highs at 26-30-32 & 32-31-33, respectively, i.e., cooler than on the race weekend when 34 was the ambient high on all three track action days, so hardly unbearably hot.
        For Miami, the only issue in June is Hurricane season.
        Considering certain climatic aspects, keeping Miami & Montreal separate is ultimately better.
        Even more so, given the latter’s somewhat narrow overall window for ideal temps + this gives more flexibility for the entire race calendar formation as holding Montmelo & Monaco earlier than Montreal but relatively deep into Northern Hemisphere spring is better.

        1. You’re forgetting humidity, Miami is pretty much tropical and temperature alone doesn’t give the full picture. With the humidity factored in it would be extremely unpleasant for both drivers / teams and the paying audience. There is a good reason why historically all major races in and around Miami (NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA) would take place Feb-Mar-Apr or Oct-Nov rather than in the summer.

  14. Hi Joe,

    “The other new race will be Las Vegas. Obviously if you have a 22-race calendar in 2022 and you add three races (South Africa, China and Las Vegas), you reach a total of 25, and so some of the current events must disappear. Fortunately Russia has taken care of itself.

    At the moment, so they say, France and Belgium are not on the 2023 schedule so I’m not quite sure how we would get to 24 races”

    It seems like you missed Qatar here.They’re on a ten-year contract starting next year. If we take the current 22 race calendar, add South Africa, China, Las Vegas and Qatar, you reach a total of 26. Drop France and Belgium and you’re looking at a 24 race calendar.

  15. As usual, a fantastic read. Joe

    If Williams continues to use Mercedes engines, will Oscar being an Alpine driver bother Mercs? IIRC Toto requested that Redbull release Albon so that he could take the seat at Williams.

    Also, according to Schimdt of AMuS, another manufacturer (in addition to the known candidates) wants to join F1, is that referring to Hitech?

    1. According to Lawrence Barretto on F1.com, if Williams signs him, the deal would have to be on ”their terms,” & here are examples he gave:
      A multi-year deal, or possibly 1+1 & option on their side to retain him for the latter year as they’d want to avoid being a mere stop-gap & agreeing to a simple 1-year deal only to lose him immediately for the following year. Alonso will probably continue for at least two seasons, though, in which case both Alpine drives would be locked until 2024-end.

  16. I hope you can find some good rest and recuperation from the Air Canada experience for a few days, back in Normandy.
    “The other way would be new to F1, but not unusual in the business world where weak companies are targeted by bigger players, who win control by buying up shares and gaining enough influence to oust the original owners”.
    Did this not happen in F1, admittedly only once, way back in the mid-1970s, when Walter Wolf bought out Frank Williams from his original team, very briefly kept him on as team manager (I think for all of one race) and then booted poor Frank out of the team he had created?

  17. Spectacularly bad press for Air Canada today. Over on the Daily Mail there’s a story of 30 random passengers being removed by Police (including pregnant women, elderly couples, children and Williams F1 team members) under the guise of drunken behaviour and non-mask compliance.

    It’s not so long ago that air freight was the concern in F1, we’re not far from the circus staff themselves are at risk of not getting there in time.

  18. As ever, a very interresting piece of work.
    Trully sorry for your canadian experience Joe, this is the new reality we must live with here in Maple country.. we are down on work force and even more on competent ones….if it can put some balm on your bad experience, a lot of people here have to camp outside of Service Canada’s offices for nights and days to keep line and have a shimmer of hope to have their passport delivered in time. At least your were able to get your flight in time,wich for some of those said people, did not have that chance…

  19. You have my deepest sympathies for you travails with Air Canada. My job occasionally takes me to Ottawa, and the only way you can get to Ottawa from London direct is via Air Canada. I have flown quite a bit, on quite a few airlines, and I think I can say that Air Canada is the worst of them all by quite a wide margin. I find this quite odd, and Canada itself is rather a friendly and efficient place so it’s hard to understand how they could have such an incompetent and unwelcoming national airline.

    1. The capital of Canada STILL does not have (after 30 months) a direct flight to the UK………or to New York. Air Canada has one a day to Washington (Reagan) and likewise United one to Washington (Dulles). Pathetic.

  20. Joe, where you say “at the moment, so they say, France and Belgium are not on the 2023 schedule so I’m not quite sure how we would get to 24 races”, have you factored in Qatar? And if so, will this be held at Losail or a street race in Doha?

    1. Either a street (corniche) circuit in Doha or a new permanent one, although nothing new on this front has come for a little while.

  21. The flight delays and cancellations are an ongoing issue at Canadian airports. News stories appear daily outlining the frustrations of travellers. It’s not all the airlines’ fault as the sudden post COVID increase in travel has strained airport infrastructure. The lack of staff at different levels from airport security, airline maintenance, front desk personnel, has impacted heavily on what was at best tolerable, in the past. The federal government has promised relief in the near future, but until then, if you’re flying out of Canadian airports, you pay your money and take your chance

  22. Thanks Joe. I love the stories about airports and taxi driver and hotels that jack up prices to just rip off people coming to visit. The joys of travel. But to be honest the “sheep” before the metal detector who wait until they are standing in front of machine before they attempt to open bag and put take out lap-top or phone or take off belt or full water bottle always make me shake my head in disbelief.
    I do like when security run the hand wand over my bare arms. I wish it would beep, just to see what they do.
    Can not wait for you to return to Europe and give us some more must see pointers for our next road trip.

  23. Canada is a great place to live. No Brexit, no Bojo. Your experiences with Air Canada and Canadian officialdom are alas not isolated incidences. On behalf of Canadians I apologize.

  24. Concerning the notes a few paragraphs below on the possible shape, I don’t see much point in not holding the early-season Middle East events on consecutive weekends like this season, as nothing with this particular double-header.
    A Jeddah-Melbourne double be unideal given distance & jet lag + the fact jet lag is worse when travelling west-east travel than the other way round.
    Beginning the season with a Melbourne-Sakhir-Jeddah triple would be better jet lag-wise + minimize travel, but oh well.
    Additionally, in this scenario, Bahrain GP would have to occur on March 5 because the 19th is the latest possible Sunday for any early-season Middle East event with Ramadan commencing on the 22nd-day sunset.
    Seemingly COTA won’t move to early-season, not that I’ve truly expected this to happen anyway, albeit this would be ideal as in this case Canadian GP would be the only solitary NA event.
    Chinese GP at least temporarily returning to the late-season flyaway phase would give the event a greater likelihood of finally reoccurring via 5+ months longer lead time, though.

    On Williams’ PU supply situation, yes, not much point in changing for three seasons only to possibly change again for 2026, although the lead time for next season isn’t necessarily too short given AT’s (under their previous identity) move from Renault to Ferrari power for 2016 became official in December.
    Another factor is Toto once saying Mercedes’ preference to have one less customer team these days, so never say never, but still, honoring the Mercedes supply deal that expires at 2025-end is perhaps ultimately better.

  25. “Of the current F1 teams Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Alpine all belong to listed companies”

    Joe – Aston Martin Lagonda, the tiny and loss-making car assembler, is indeed listed on the London Stock Exchange but it has zero ownership of Aston Martin Racing, Stroll’s F1 team. Stroll just made AML shareholders fund his privately-owned AMR through a sponsorship agreement, as a hobby for his son.

    And for the record, Mercedes-Benz only have a minority interest in Mercedes F1 these days.

  26. Another great post Joe. On the engine penalty for Leclerc, Martin Brundle was writing that the penalty of losing the race was enough. But I was thinking today, is the financial cap not a catch all? Why do they need to be limited on the power unit parts in addition to the financial cap + penalties? Could you help explain?

  27. Great read. Years ago in Malta they used to search your suit cases and if they found sweets in the luggage they would confiscate them. If you objected then the time taken for the rest of the search became much longer. On completion a white chalked cross was put on the case.

  28. The Toulon Racing Club (Rugby club) doesn’t play in Nice Joe. It plays in Toulon, Mayol stadium (well know singer from 1920) …

  29. Might possibly be that an off-weekend for both NASCAR and Indycar assisted the viewing figures a bit, but it’s clear where Liberty’s priorities lie. Interesting how the sport is becoming more embedded over there – Kevin Harvick is getting his offspring familiar with the European way of doing things and getting him into karts on this side of the pond with an eye to pursuing a path towards F1. It’s clearly having an effect because when Harvick’s team mucked up another pit stop last weekend, Kevin announced on the radio that they looked ‘like a bunch of w–kers’ which had the NASCAR commentators hurriedly searching Google.

    Before long he’ll have turned ‘overtake’ from a verb to a noun, and podium from a noun to a verb, in true modern F1 style. (Bleurgh!)

  30. Joe

    Very minor point, the international airport in Johannesburg is actually O.R. Tambo. Oliver Reginald was affectionately knows as OR, except in white South Africa of course. I called it Oliver Tambo once and was politely but firmly advised it is OR Tambo while passing through it.

    1. Andrew, I can assure you that person who told you that was being pedantic. I used to live in Joburg and I assure you I know many people who call it “Oliver Tambo”.

      Funny story re the name of the airport: A friend of my wife’s was very confused when she booked her flight to our wedding in South Africa because the ticket said she’d arrive in “Johannesburg OR Tambo” which she thought meant it was some sort of pot luck thing and that, depending on how the pilot was feeling that day, she would either end up in Johannesburg or a place called “Tambo”.

  31. On the subject of airport names, I believe SirPaul McCartney & Sir Ringo Starr have ben known to use John Lennon Airport,

  32. Travel has indeed gone backwards. Every industry in pretty much every country has a staffing crisis right now (I’m an HR consultant). And the travel sector cut particularly savagely in the pandemic and offers jobs that can’t be done from home and therefore is struggling more than most sectors.

    These shortages cause delays – I was delayed on Monday by 55 mins of sitting on the tarmac after landing because there was a shortage of tug drivers (the tug is what pushes planes back from the jetty). Whilst the “don’t care” attitude is widespread, I must shout out the agency staff for BA at Frankfurt yesterday who went a LONG way beyond the call of duty after I missed a flight (because I was sent to the wrong gate, but that’s another story…)

  33. I once went thru a “metal detector” at an airport in India and the electrical cable powering it was obviously not actually plugged into a socket.

  34. Joe

    This blog has many unique features, of which the best is your wordsmithery. You could write about fresh air and keep people riveted. In quite moments I have tried to track your journeys across Europe as I find what you write about interesting and worthy of replicating at some point. I would have loved to do the Orient Express but it’s no more, for example. I think a left field story about poor airport experiences would be interesting purely because we all suffer from it from time to time. When I lived in 🇬🇧 I travelled by train a huge amount, very quickly I learned which trains to avoid because they were late 9 out of 10 times

  35. Ah, travel travails. You fly more in a month than I do in several years. But you should see what the TSA does to a person traveling in a power wheelchair. Fun times.

  36. Well Joe at least you were not thrown off the plane by armed police like some of the Williams team and several other mystified passengers!

  37. Know some pretty senior (now retired) members of Air Canada’s ground staff who told me a tale which they assured me was true.
    A self important male arrived at Toronto check-in and pushed to jump the queue. The pretty lady on duty told him he must stand in line. He said “do you know who I am ?” She put a call out on the tannoy “I have a gentleman here who doesn’t know who he is, can anyone help ?” He shouted “*** you” to which she replied “you’ll have to stand in line for that too, sir”
    Sorry no cars or F1 involved but a mild counterbalance to your miserable experience.

  38. Being a Canadian and having attended many Canadian GPs, I was sorry to hear of your bad experiences with Air Canada, our airports and transportation/accommodations in Montreal. I can not defend them. I have stopped going to the Canadian GP mainly because of the accommodation costs and as the years have gone on, general access to viewing areas around the track for picture taking or finding a nice grassy sitting spot to have lunch. I realize that the event has grown over the years and supply/demand has created the situation that now exists. Too bad but I guess that’s a consequence of success.

    One good memory I have goes back to 2001, when my friends and I had a table at the then new restaurant New Town (owned by J. Villeneuve of course). While eating our dinner, Villeneuve, Panis and Irvine came in for a late dinner a few tables away from us. That was a real treat. I doubt a similar thing would happen in this day and age.

    Dan from Can

    1. My first GP was at Mosport. Tickets were $25 for the weekend, including camping and you could walk into the pits and talk to the drivers standing beside their cars. It was the camping that used to make races affordable. The $600, or more, for a race day ticket today might be tolerable if it didn’t require an additional $1000 for meals and hotels.

  39. Hi Joe

    Any idea on what date the season would start?

    I read in another publication March 5, but this seems very early. I know they want to avoid Ramadan, but March 12 and 19 dates in the Middle East could avoid this.

    Cheers
    William Olive

    1. Australian GP used to take place around that time or within March’s first ten days until 2005.
      The month’s 3rd was the race day in 2002, so opening race on the 5th wouldn’t necessarily be very early despite no season-opener occurring this early for a long time.

  40. Joe

    I sympathise with your plight at Montreal airport but the shortage of security and other ground staff is not unique to Canada as you say. Sydney airport is currently looking for 5,000 ground staff to replace those who were sacked or left during the pandemic. At peak times apparently there can be a 4 hour wait to get to your flight apparently which is why I have avoided business or personal travel thus far. I guess most people left Montreal the evening after the race as I noted on an Australian F1 photographer’s YouTube video that the airport was virtually deserted the day after the race !!!!

  41. “She got excited when she found some pen refills, but could not figure out how these might be deemed to be murderous devices, although I was on the verge of showing her by that point.” This is one of the funniest lines that Joe has ever written!

  42. Interesting to hear of your experience in Montreal. Green book was informative and insightful as usual. Thanks. Some Red Bull mechanics had a hard time leaving for Heathrow as well. Sadly it seems that wherever the F1 circus goes, people are always eager to fleece the golden goose. Works both ways, I suppose. As for PET airport, hardly a gracious welcome to Montreal. Been that way for decades.

  43. Your security line story reminds me…

    An eminent professor arrived into Montreal for the race, having flown from a few days at his Florida home. He was planning on meeting his wife in Montreal, a yearly tradition, and as I remember, the city where they met.

    His bag was chosen for inspection, and after some rummaging a ball gown was found. The professor was queried as to what it was. “It’s what I’m wearing to the F1 gala tomorrow night of course”, he replied, deadpan. Further rummaging. A pair of matching high heels is unearthed. “And these?” “Well you wouldn’t expect me to wear that gown in flats, now would you?”

    It gets better.

    No doubt intrigued by what other treasures he could excavate, the search continued, only to reveal two unlabelled bottles containing clear capules with white powder in them.

    “And what are these sir?”

    “That one is chondroitin sulfate,” the prof answered helpfully, “and that one is glucosamine. The are for osteoarthritic knees.”

    “And are you a doctor sir?”

    “Why yes, yes i am.”

    “And what kind of doctor are you sir?”

    “I’m a brain surgeon”

    “Well doctor, tell me, are you coming to Canada to work?”

    “Old boy, I’ve been in Canada for over an hour now and I’ve not yet seen any evidence of brains…”

  44. I can sympathise, many years ago I flew into Montreal and my bags did not appear on the luggage carousel. Lost luggage were word than a very poor joke. The bags did arrive a day later magically but not the experience I expected it wanted!

  45. Hey, at least you didn’t get yanked off the airplane like some F1 team members did…for no apparent reason.

  46. The idea that Drive to Survive is increasing the interest in the US makes me wonder if it isn’t a fad. Will the upswing survive the next ‘must watch” TV show? I am doubtful that a great percentage of the Covid fan wave will survive many seasons.

    1. A good point. Judging by US TV shows, the plot lines will get more and more strained until they suddenly cancel mid-season. That may not be such a bad thing for the sport (the cancellation, I mean).

  47. It seems ESPN will be paying a huge fee for F1 rights. In that case will “Drive to Survive” continue at Netflix or move to Disney+? Or will Disney+ actually become the global broadcaster?

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