F1 Canadian Grand Prix Promoter Discusses Event, Negotiations With Bernie Ecclestone
The F1 Canadian Grand Prix takes place this weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and the Montreal GAZETTE's Kevin Mio conducted a Q&A with race promoter Octane Motorsports President & CEO Francois Dumontier. Below are excerpts from the Q&A.
Q: Have there been any modifications to the track or on-site facilities for fans this year?
Dumontier: We are introducing Wi-Fi this year, on the western half of the track. It is a two-year process, with the whole track getting Wi-Fi next year. Also this year, when you buy your ticket, you can also buy your lunch in advance. In previous years, you could buy your métro ticket and program. Now, you go through the website and order your ticket and you can pick up [your] lunch at a designated spot so you don’t have to do the lineup. This is a new thing we are trying.
Q: Has the addition of the U.S. Grand Prix had any impact on the Montreal race?
Dumontier: It has been there only for one year and we haven’t seen any impact yet. Not sure that it will have an impact because, geographically, Texas is pretty far away. I am happy, actually, to have a second race in North America because it doubles the visibility and the awareness of our sport here. We should work together to promote that, but I don’t think Texas will have an impact.
Q: Do you see any issue relating to the addition of the Grand Prix of America in 2014 if it goes ahead as planned?
Dumontier: We have a certain number of clients that are coming from the U.S. side, along the border. But personally, I don’t think that the race is a threat to us.
Q: Is there any news on a new agreement on the 10-year extension for the Canadian Grand Prix?
Dumontier: What I can say now is that we are still in discussion and they are progressing. Every party around the table is going in the same direction and it is just a matter of time before it gets done. But I am optimistic. We are working for 2015-2024.
Q: How is it negotiating with [F1 CEO] Bernie Ecclestone?
Dumontier: At first, it is intimidating. He built Formula One, so obviously he knows what he wants. So I often say that when you know what you want, we are finding the common ground on it. But he is a tough one. He is negotiating with 19 different races, plus the ones who want a race. Usually, it is pretty quick, we don’t waste time.
Q: Have they made [specific] demands for the Montreal race?
Dumontier: What they asked for was to invest some money in the infrastructure at the track. Meaning, it could be the garage itself, the track hospital, the track itself. But that would happen in the new agreement (Montreal GAZETTE, 6/7).