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What you need to know about attending the Canadian Grand Prix

Kaitlin Tucci
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The FanAmp Team attended the Canadian Grand Prix - here's what we saw, from the best grandstands to catch on-track action, to countless fan zones, and all the best kept secrets - including a look into the F1 garages.

The Canadian Grand Prix is widely known as a bucket list historic grand prix for all North American Formula 1 fans! On the historic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the lively city of Montreal, the atmosphere, on-track action, and overall fan experience are unrivaled by other races in North America. The FanAmp team and your trusty author have attended this Grand Prix two years in a row and although the circuit may be older, we have gotten a NEW experience every day and in every session.

If you want to hear more about activities in and around the Canadian Grand Prix during the race week, check out FanAmp’s article Canadian GP Pop-Ups, Fan Zones, and off-track activities that you can't miss!

If you want to purchase tickets ahead of time for the Canadian Grand Prix check out P1 Travel once tickets are on sale.

Want to check out the views from a number of seating options? Check out our Canadian Grand Prix Seating Guide.

How do I get to the Canadian Grand Prix track (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve)?

Montreal Metro
Montreal Metro

The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is located on an island! This means that regardless of the way you travel, you'll run into some traffic and congestion. The most convenient way to reach the circuit is by using Montreal's Metro Line! The Jean-Drapeau metro station on the Yellow Line is the closest station to the circuit, and from there, you can walk or use shuttle buses to reach the entrance. This is the way in which well over 2/3 of the fans at the track will get to and from the circuit, so prepare for delays and long lines!

Personally, I have gone to the Canadian Grand Prix twice and I have taken the metro to-and-from the circuit all 6 days that I have been on the track. Although lines can seem daunting, it's the best way to get on and off the island. I will discuss transit times each day below!

If you want to learn more about the other Canada GP transportation options check out our article.

What do fans NEED to know about the Canadian Grand Prix?

The Canadian Grand Prix is the most affordable Formula 1 Race in North America for a reason. This race is very different from the likes of Miami and Las Vegas and is perfect for life-long fans, new fans, and families alike. With most of the seating options uncovered grandstands and general admission and the entire track dotted with fan zones, this race is very 'unifying' in terms of experience.

Where are the best grandstands at the Canadian Grand Prix?

The Canadian Grand Prix is a track that hasn't been updated for fans attending for many years - that being said many of the grandstands are KNOWN to have fantastic views for fans with action on track. I'll start off by saying - if you do not plan on getting to the track VERY early and sitting in one spot ALL DAY, General Admission may not be for you. Although this is the lowest price tag for fans (~$285 CAD or $207 USD), the general admission viewing areas for the most part are small and not elevated in the more desired parts of the track. Although you CAN stand nearly anywhere to watch, if you want a screen, audio, and a view of the cars there are only 2 - 3 sections where you can get all three.

Grandstand 11 View
Grandstand 11 View

For on track action combined with a screen, audio, and nearby food and beverage options Grandstand 11 ($635 CAD or $462 USD) and Grandstand 24/ Lance Stroll Grandstand ($899 CAD or $655 USD) are two of the best options.

Grandstand 24 View
Grandstand 24 View

Personally, as you will read below, I have sat in Grandstand 46 ($315 CAD or $230 USD) for two years in a row, now. Although this seat does not have a great view of a LOT of action, there is a large screen with audio, food and drink options, and a view of parts of the hairpin!

As you can tell by a few of those price points, attending the Canadian Grand Prix itself is significantly less expensive than other North American races! I would just recommend spending a few more dollars on a grandstand than braving the General Admission Experience!

If you want to purchase tickets ahead of time for the Canadian Grand Prix check out P1 Travel once tickets are on sale.

Want to check out the views from a number of seating options? Check out our Canadian Grand Prix Seating Guide.

What attractions are there on track other than racing?

The Canadian Grand Prix is my personal favorite race due to the atmosphere of the race. This year, there were also a number of additional installations and fan areas for fans to partake in across the length of the track!

Fan Zone - AMEX and Children's Zone
Fan Zone - AMEX and Children's Zone

Most of the main fan zone areas were located towards the entrance of the track (from the metro station and bridge area). Monster Energy, Heineken, Bell, and F1 themselves all had very large viewing areas with comfortable seating, unique food options, sim racing, fun activities (including a hair braiding station and half pipe?!?!), and bars. In addition to the large fan zone areas, there were set-up exhibitions from Lego x McLaren, American Express Canada, and the Parc Jean-Drapeau itself (specifically for children)!

Fan Zone - LEGO McLaren and Monster Energy
Fan Zone - LEGO McLaren and Monster Energy

Generally, the best thing to do at the Canadian Grand Prix, though is make friends and interact with other fans! You will meet fans from every single walk of life at this race and that is what makes it so special!

What are the food and drink options?

Fan Zone food
Fan Zone food

The Canadian Grand Prix did step up their food and beverage options this year, in my opinion. While nearly every single food station sold the ever-famous Canadian Poutine, there were also new vegan options, stations for nearly every type of international cuisine, dessert- centric options, and hot dog carts as far as the eye could see. The food and beverage prices were generally what you would expect at an event (around $20 CAD for a meal).

Additionally, there were bars in each of the food and drink areas as well as filtered water refill stations. These refill stations were a LARGE step up from last year and the water was very refreshing as opposed to water refill stations at tracks like COTA.

If you are looking to save money, though, you are welcome to bring food to the track! We saw everything from picnics to a full size blender for cocktail- making!

TIP - Get poutine on track! It will be authentic and delicious!

How can fans prepare to attend the Canadian Grand Prix comfortably?

Before I tell you how my actual days went on track... my NUMBER ONE point I must make is: PREPARE FOR RAIN. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is not only on an island but it is a park... there are trees, grass, dirt, sand, gravel, and little to no actual concrete. Not only that, but June in Montreal means unpredictable weather. YOU MUST PREPARE FOR HEAVY RAIN.

Rain and Puddles
Rain and Puddles

On Friday, a 'squall' hit the island... gusts of wind, hail, torrential downpour. Wear clothing from top to bottom including shoes that you do not mind ruining and bring weather protection. On Sunday, it also rained on and off which meant we went through periods of jackets and ponchos followed by intense sun between the clouds. I would wear layers.

On a very similar note, due to the unpredictable weather shoes are the most important clothing choice you could make. Wear shoes that are not only waterproof, but comfortable because some of the further grandstands in the Beach Zone and Casino can be upwards of a 30 - 40 minute walk from the main entrance near the metro!

What should I bring to the Canadian Grand Prix?

The Canadian Grand Prix is FAMOUS for unpredictable weather. Here are the things that I would pack including what to take them in:

  1. WATERPROOF BAG - There are very lax bag rules at the circuit. Many items are allowed in including food, so bring a bag that can store all of your valuables!
  2. PONCHO AND/OR UMBRELLA - Even if rain is not on the forecast, somehow it will rain (or hail). BE READY FOR IT!
  3. EMPTY OR FACTORY SEALED WATER BOTTLE - There are cold water refill stations around the track
  4. FOOD - You can bring in entire meals to the circuit! Save money by bringing your own snacks!
  5. WALKING SHOES THAT ARE WATERPROOF - As with any F1 track, the grounds are massive including walking to transportation. You want to be comfortable! The track is also INCREDIBLY muddy if it does rain, so wear shoes for that type of track!
  6. SUN SCREEN, SUNGLASSES, AND HAT- Avoid sunburns! Even if it's raining, it could be sunny 5 minutes later!
  7. PORTABLE CHARGER - The days are often 8-10 hours long, don’t let your phone die!

Friday: Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2

What time should you arrive to the track?

As mentioned above, the Canadian Grand Prix is most easily accessed via the Montreal metro system. We left our hotel at 10 AM and were standing inside of the track at 10:30 AM on Friday. Although this was hours before the start of the 1st practice session, we wanted to explore the entire track and take advantage of some of the activities prior to the busier days of Saturday and Sunday.

Generally, it is not difficult to get to the train station or through security, but you should budget time to walk from the metro exit to the actual gates of the circuit (a ~10-15 minute walk). There were no lines for security this day, but there were on other days.

What activities should I take advantage of on Friday?

Friday at any Grand Prix will be the least busy day at the circuit. However, the Canadian Grand Prix Friday was still VERY busy. I usually would give the advice that you should buy your merch on Friday, but other than 1 - 2 special Lance Stroll hats, the F1 merch on sale here was items that could be purchased online. That being said, the actual TRACK merch (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve) is VERY cool, so if you want to grab some merch, this is where I'd suggest you head. These circuit merch stands are in the entrance fan zone area with a lot of restaurants and bars.

Additionally, as I covered above, there are a ton of fan zones that are centered around the main entrance area. Although Friday is still a very busy day on track, check out those fan zones before Saturday and Sunday. This year the AMEX fan zone allowed card- holders to enter and design their own F1 Car livery to take home!

This is also a great time (if you feel like getting your steps in) to walk around the entire track and check out some of the unique areas such as the Beach! I personally ended up walking the entire track and checking out the views from each area. Although all of the food, drink, and amenity options are comparable, it's fun to feel the energy of different parts of the track.

Friday's Weather Extravaganza

Friday Rain Storm
Friday Rain Storm

If you've made it this far, you've heard me discuss the weather in Montreal more than once... Friday was the day that we experienced the true "Canada has 4 seasons in 1 day" on track. Once we had made it into the Beach Zone near Grandstands 11 and 12 the sky opened up with rain that we could see creeping in from a distance. That was then alarms started sounding and the grandstands were very RAPIDLY evacuated... About 10 minutes later we were huddled under a hot dog cart being pelted by severe wind, rain, and BALLS of hail.

NOTE: There is little to no shelter around the track - this is why you must BRING your rain gear

What made Circuit Gilles Villeneuve unique during this storm was that on the north side of the track we were experiencing a near hurricane, while my colleagues Greg and Logan, at the hairpin (south side of track) only experienced a light rain. Although unfortunate, the Canadian Grand Prix organizers expect weather to interrupt their weekends and the track was cleared for FP1 shortly after.

NOTE: Many fans were told very different instructions around track about everything from Friday being cancelled to FP1 being cancelled. Unless it comes directly from the track, do not take anyone at their word. The screens will make the official announcements.

Sitting in Grandstand 1 and seeing into the F1 Garages

Grandstand View on Friday FT Carlos Sainz
Grandstand 1 View on Friday FT Carlos Sainz

Grandstand 1 is considered the 'start/finish' grandstand at the Canadian Grand Prix. I was lucky enough to snag tickets in this section for a low price ($40 USD) on Friday. This is also the only grandstand that has individual seats with backs and are not long metal benches, so it is much more comfortable.

Our seat in Section 8 Row NN was PHENOMENAL as a Ferrari (and McLaren) fan. We were sat directly in front of the Ferrari Garages and had perfect views all the way down the paddock from Red Bull to Mercedes to McLaren. This experience was SO unique because unlike many tracks this grandstand is essentially ON the start/finish straight. That meant being in the 14th row (AA - NN) guaranteed us a fantastic view of everything happening in the pits.

Carlos, Oscar, and Lando even came over to the pit boxes in front of us and waved to the crowd! Genuinely this view was so good that we could see Charles pulling on his race suit in the back of the Ferrari Garage... So, if you want a view like this on at least one of the days Grandstand 1 is the place to be!

We left about halfway through FP2 in order to get back to the hotel and dry off before our FanAmp meetup that evening so it took us about 25 minutes to walk around the entire track and another 10 minutes to exit to the metro. If you're sitting in the Beach section (Grandstand 1, 16, 11, 12) leaving a bit early cuts off HOURS of your travel time due to the narrow pathways back to the metro.

Top Canadian Grand Prix Friday Takeaways

  1. Buy your merch ESPECIALLY Circuit Gilles Villeneuve merch when the track is less crowded.
  2. Take part in fanzone activations and activities while the track is less crowded
    1. Friday was still a very crowded day, so expect lines regardless
  3. Prepare for the weather (poncho, boots, umbrella)
  4. Use this day to explore the entire track!

Saturday: Free Practice 3 and Qualifying

What time should you arrive to the track?

We made a slight error with timing on Saturday and were under the impression that FP3 began at 1:30 PM not 12:30 PM. So, when we received the F1 TV notification at 12:20 PM.... we knew mistakes were made.

As a testament to the Canadian Grand Prix and Montreal Public transportation. We arrived to our SEATS in Grandstand 46 (so this includes the walk from the metro, security, and crossing over the hairpin to the far side) by 1:00 PM. There was a MUCH longer line for security this day as well, but even then everything was quick and easy getting to the track!

What activities should I take advantage of on Saturday?

The additional head count and business on the track Saturday was palpable compared to the track on Friday. If you thought the circuit was busy for a Friday... Saturday was about the business of an actual race day. Luckily, there was very little rain this day so we were able to stay relatively dry.

On Saturday and Sunday, unless you really want to do 1-2 activities, I would head straight to your Grandstand and remain in that area for the duration of the sessions. Simply put, although Gilles Villeneuve is very large, the actual pathways themselves are thin, so many bottlenecks are encountered when moving around. Additionally, unlike other tracks many of the fans stay in their seats for the support series (Ferrari Challenge and Porsche). This means that getting refreshments and using the restroom is much easier when ANY car is on track.

NOTE: by the time Saturday rolled around the restrooms (port-a-potties) were less than clean, so if you can hold it until you get home... I would.

Sitting in Grandstand 46

Qualifying Grandstand 46
Qualifying Grandstand 46

Grandstand 46 is my tried and true grandstand at the Canadian Grand Prix. I sat there during my first ever grand prix in 2023, and decided to return for a second year for a number of reasons. It is much easier to access than many other grandstands (straight shot over 2 bridges from the entrance), there are food and refreshments just over the bridge in the center of the hairpin, and you have a view of most of the hairpin, exit straight, and a large screen with loud audio.

Once we arrived halfway through FP3, we headed to our seats near the top, center of the Grandstand (Row U Section 4). From this part of the grandstand we had a great view of the cars entering and exiting the hairpin! Between FP3 and Quali, we spent time with the rest of the FanAmp team in the center of the hairpin eating and rehydrating.

At 4pm we returned to our grandstand for Quali (which was not great as a Ferrari Fan)! Grandstand 46 also has a TON of enthusiastic fans so it's a great place to sit for the qualifying and race sessions if you really want to experience a HIGH ENERGY atmosphere.

What was the podium concert/ Pitbull experience?

Podium Concert/ Pitbull
Podium Concert/ Pitbull

After qualifying, I met up with my friends to head to what was supposed to be the Canadian Grand Prix Podium Concert with Pitbull. It took us about an hour of walking and pushing through crowds to be told that the concert isn't actually held at the circuit but actually across the bridge near the metro. Signage and instruction to the staff was not great and no one (including the information booths) knew where this concert was.

At 6PM we finally made it to the gates of the concert grounds where MANY fans were having all of their race gear confiscated. We then stood in the rain for 2 hours just to find out that Pitbull had cancelled. All attendees received a refund for the extra $60(CAD) tickets that we had purchased. All - in -all after this experience, I will NEVER stay for another post- F1 concert again... especially because these tickets were at an additional charge and many people had important race gear thrown out.

The only perk of attending this event after the Quali sessions is that we avoided the major foot traffic and wait to take the metro. We were back in our hotel around 20 minutes after Pitbull cancelled.

Top Canadian Grand Prix Saturday Takeaways

  1. Head straight to your grandstand and zone and stay there!
  2. Purchase food and refreshments when cars (including support series) are on track.
  3. DO NOT waste your time with podium concerts
    1. Poorly organized and communicated to race attendees
    2. Gear from water to sunscreen to umbrellas were forced to be thrown out

Sunday: F1 Grand Prix du Canada

What time should you arrive to the track?

We arrived to the track at 1PM, about an hour before the race. That being said, the drivers parade was at 12 PM and if you are looking to wave to the drivers, I'd aim to arrive about an hour before as well!

Shockingly, although this was the largest crowd I'd seen arriving to an F1 race day by far, the walk to my seat still only took about 15 minutes and there was a very quickly moving security line.

What activities should I take advantage of on Sunday?

As I said, we headed straight to our Grandstand (46) and remained there for the duration of the pre-race and race itself. This day is so packed that sardines would be an understatement attempting to navigate the track. I would bring your own food and beverage this day and only plan on sitting in your seat for the duration of the time.\

The ONE caveat to that is participating in the track invasion which we will discuss shortly!

Sitting in Grandstand 46

View from Grandstand 46, Race

As I said before, Grandstand 46 is my tried and true grandstand at the Canadian Grand Prix. I sat there during my first ever grand prix in 2023, and decided to return for a second year for a number of reasons. It is much easier to access than many other grandstands (straight shot over 2 bridges from the entrance), there are food and refreshments just over the bridge in the center of the hairpin, and you have a view of most of the hairpin, exit straight, and a large screen with loud audio.

The energy of the crowd in Grandstand 46 playing off of the energy of Grandstand 47 facing us was absolutely electric... and if you watched the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix... you know exactly why. This year, we also saw a lot of overtaking start to occur on the exit of the hairpin directly in front of the grandstand which was very exciting to watch.

All in all, I'd give Grandstand 46 an 8/10 (-2 points for less action).

Leaving the track on race day

This is the day above all others that I'd plan to quite literally be stuck at the track. The race ended at around 4PM and we were not home until 5:20 PM. While an hour and 20 minutes feels very long when on other days it took about 30 minutes, this was not NEARLY as long as the experience of some other race-goers on Sunday. As I mentioned prior, Grandstands 1, 16, 11, and 12 are VERY far away from the exit and the only way out are 2 very thin paths in one direction. My friends who sat in Grandstand 12 on race day enjoyed a FANTASTIC view of action (especially that Lando vs Max pit battle) BUT they did not get back until 6:15 PM - clocking in a 2 hour and 15 minute transit time.

Top Canadian Grand Prix Saturday Takeaways

  1. Head straight to your grandstand and zone and stay there!
  2. Watch the driver's parade! Most grandstands are very close to the track so the drivers can actually SEE you!
  3. Be prepared for a VERY long trip home.
  4. Use FanAmp to connect with other race goers and for special tips and tricks!

If you want to hear more about things to do in Canada and Montreal Off the Track including all of the fan zones, meet and greets, and activations, check out that article. For tickets visit P1 Travel and to figure out where to sit, check out our Canadian Grand Prix Seating Guide.

Already attending the Canadian Grand Prix? Join FanAmp to chat with other race-goers!

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