Canadian Grand Prix cancelled for 2nd year
Race cancelled, but deal struck to hold event for two more years in 2030, 2031
For the second consecutive year, public health concerns are forcing the cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
The news was first reported by the magazine Pole Position and La Presse.
Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec's economy minister, made it official during a joint news conference alongside Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, several federal and provincial officials, and the race's promoter.
This year's race was scheduled for June 13.
"Considering the epidemiological situation and the concerns expressed by public health officials in Montreal, Quebec and at the federal [level], our government made the necessary decision," Fitzgibbon said.
The minister did not provide more details as to why the race was cancelled. He did, however, guarantee that the race will take place in 2022. Fitzgibbon also announced an agreement for a contract extension that will keep the race in Montreal for the 2030 and 2031 Formula One seasons, two years past the current agreement.
Hosting the two races will cost $51 million, he said, with Quebec, Ottawa, the city of Montreal and Tourism Montreal splitting the bill.
Both levels of government are also pledging to invest up to $5.5 million combined to promote the race internationally, in hopes of helping draw tourists and F1 enthusiasts to a downtown core that has been battered by the pandemic.
François Dumontier, the race's promoter, says he is confident there won't be any issues with next year's event, given the rollout of the vaccination campaign.
"By September or October, most Canadians will be vaccinated. If we can start working [to plan the race] at that moment, we'll be in good shape," Dumontier said.
"I hope that we'll get to work soon, and we'll have a normal Grand Prix [in 2022], with just as many people, if not more."
Formula One has announced that it will replace the 2021 event with a race in Turkey during that weekend.
Public health officials butt heads over race
For months, the fate of the annual race was up in the air.
Earlier this week, Fitzgibbon said he was still "optimistic" that a deal would be reached, allowing the race to go ahead.
As recently as two weeks ago, there was a disagreement between local and provincial public health officials about whether the event could be held.
Montreal public health authorities were categorically opposed to the race, worried the arrival of 2,500 participants would lead to outbreaks, even if no fans would be allowed to attend.
Other concerns included the fact that participants would not be able to quarantine upon their arrival from Baku, Azerbaijan, where a race is scheduled the weekend before.
Authorities with the province had been more open to the idea of the race going ahead, thinking strict guidelines could minimize risks.
With files from Radio-Canada's Sébastien Bovet