The 2021 Canadian Grand Prix is officially cancelled

Montreal, April 15, 2021

The Canadian Formula One Grand Prix that was scheduled to take place on June 13th of this year, has today officially been cancelled.

For the second consecutive year, the Formula One weekend that was to take place at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has been cancelled over COVID related concerns. The Formula One championship is set to run its Azerbaijan event from June 2nd to June 4th, and was set to arrive in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix the following week. Traditionally, Formula One holds its media day on the Thursday prior to the race, therefore the championship was looking to be rolling in Montreal on June 1oth, ahead the of the June 13th race day. Canada currently requires a fourteen day quarantine period for anybody entering the country.

Lewis Hamilton races around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve -- Photo : Kieron Yates
Lewis Hamilton races around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve — Photo : Kieron Yates

Formula One had asked that the mandatory quarantine for its drivers, team staff and crew be removed, and that the event would rely on private medical staff to monitor and prevent the spreading of the COVID virus among its personnel, as it has in every country the championship has visited – and will visit. This was an impasse, despite the quarantine time being lessened to seven days from the regular fourteen days to allow transactions in the NHL (National Hockey League).

A proposal for a team bubble was also made, similar to those used throughout Canada for NHL hockey operations, but that fell flat when Montreal health officers voiced concerns over local staff and volunteers that would undoubtedly come in contact with those in their bubbles. Had it been accepted, these teams would have stayed within the confines of their hotels, used private transportation and undergone a rigorous testing process. Alas, Montreal’s public health authorities chose to shut down the event, despite accepting such an approach as little as a fortnight earlier.

“As for holding the event behind closed doors, there is a way to do it with well advised protocols in terms of public health, said Quebec director of public health of Dr Horacio Arruda last week. “As for the virus importation by people who come from outside without quarantine, there are ongoing discussions between Quebec and Canada. There are analyses and assessments that will be done on the risks.”

It is expected that Turkey will now replace the Canadian Grand Prix. From a geographical stand-point, Turkey makes sense, as the race weekend prior to Montreal is set to be held in nearby Azerbaijan.

Covid aside, Formula One had asked for additional funds to run the Canadian Grand Prix in 2021

With there being no possibility that an audience would be able to attend the event, Formula One sought an additional $6,000,000 in order for the Canadian Grand Prix to take place. The event already costs an average of $18,700,000 annually to stage, and the additional funds would increase that lofty amount to a whopping $25,000,000. Formula One and Montreal have a contract in place to run the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve until the 2029 season, therefore despite these two cancellations, a return next year is not deemed to be in jeopardy – barring further COIVID related issues.

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“For us, Formula 1 is important, and the message we want to send to all partners is that we have a great interest in this event,” said Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante. Whether or not these fees have been taken into consideration when deciding to cancel the 2021 Canadian Grand Prix is not currently known. A decision on the matter was expected to come this week, instead the issue of quarantine arose and took center stage.

2020 Canadian Grand Prix ticket holders have yet to be reimbursed

Fans that had hoped to attend last years race, still have not received reimbursement a calendar year later. Despite promises that the promoter of the race weekend, Octane Racing Group, would refund ticket holders in October 2020, it would appear that hasn’t been the case. Several ticket holders took their grievances to court or to the media and it would seem that some of those did receive their reimbursements. Many claim to have had far greater success. Octane Racing Group no longer wish to discuss the matter, and have said that all reimbursements will be made, as promised. No time line has been given as to when they may happen, though.

Francois Dumontier, the CEO of Octane, told Le Journal de Montreal last December, that all ticketholders would be reimbursed by December  22nd of that year. Four months later, that is still not the case. “We promised to issue refunds to the ticket holders who have requested them and we will honor our promise,” said Dumontier.

Furthermore, those that held tickets to the 2020 Canadian Grand Prix were given the option to opt for a refund of roll-over their tickets for the 2021 event. With that now axed; it would seem that those that had gone that route will now too be queueing up looking for a refund.