The Formula One paddock is a busy place that hosts a lot of serious business over a race weekend, but this blog will aim to bring you some of the more colourful moments from the Canadian Grand Prix weekend.
Haas’ title sponsor, Rich Energy, recently lost a trademark dispute in the UK courts with bicycle manufacturer Whyte Bikes over its stag logo. The two parties are due to return to court this month to decide the next steps, but the original decision has opened the door for Whyte Bikes to lodge an injunction against Rich Energy.
The UK-based energy drinks company asked its team to remove the logos from its car and drivers’ helmets for this weekend’s race to avoid what it called a “media circus.”
This is important context for what happened at the end of qualifying on Saturday…
Normally when a title sponsor sees one of its cars hit the wall, it steers clear of pointing it out on social media. But not Rich Energy.
When Kevin Magnussen’s qualifying came to an end in a cloud of dust and shattered carbon fibre, remarkably the Rich Energy Twitter account pounced on the opportunity to take a dig at fellow energy drinks manufacturer Red Bull. Max Verstappen was unable to complete his lap in Q2 as a result of the Magnussen shunt and therefore got knocked out (as did Magnussen’s teammate, Romain Grosjean…)
“@KevinMagnussen pushing the limits hits the wall and knocks out @Max33Verstappen,” the tweet read. “Oh deer!”
We assume the “deer” was not a typo but instead a play on words based on Rich Energy’s ongoing legal dispute over its logo, but we can’t be sure.
The initial tweet was followed up by a second taking a dig at Verstappen, which seemingly failed to notice that at least one Red Bull was taking part in Q3, while the two Haas cars were back in the garage (one in a number of pieces).
Oh deer. Looks like @rich_energy deleted this tweet. pic.twitter.com/fFlw8bInLW
— Nate Saunders (@natesaundersF1) June 8, 2019
@redbullracing get on yer bike!! @Max33Verstappen should drink the world’s premium energy drink @rich_energy and he would be a bit happier #givesyouhorns #richenergy #BetterThanRedBull #F1 #CanadianGP #kevinmagnussen #viking #Warrior pic.twitter.com/2Ek8ftpgMR
— Rich Energy (@rich_energy) June 8, 2019
In just 12 months, the paddock at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has been transformed. In place of the leaky tents and breeze-block garages, which had been the home of the paddock for three decades, an impressive three-story glass-and-concrete edifice has emerged. The pit building cost nearly $60 million and means the cars can now leave the garages without having to be wheeled out first.
Given the freezing weather conditions Montreal endures each winter, the construction is even more impressive and, although there are still a few rough edges, it now rivals the paddock buildings of most modern F1 tracks.
“It looks beautiful,” Lewis Hamilton said amid the smell of fresh paint in the press conference room. “It’s only taken the 13 years I’ve been here for them to put it together. Being it’s one of the most attended races, I’m surprised they didn’t do it sooner, but it’s great that they have. It means that they’ve made a real investment. It means this track is going to be here for a long time, as it should be.”
Sebastian Vettel, however, still seems to be yearning for the humble paddock of years past.
“I like the roof construction,” he said, looking at the timber ceiling of Ferrari’s Paddock Club hospitality, “but I don’t know if it was necessary to have a new building. I quite like the camping style that we had before.
“I guess there was a reason for it, and for us the track hasn’t changed, which is good news, because I really like the track, but if it helps people visiting to be a bit more comfortable, that’s fine. But I don’t really care much about that.”
After hitting a groundhog during Friday practice at last year’s Canadian Grand Prix, Grosjean went trackside to make peace with the local wildlife on Thursday. The large rodents inhabit the Ile de Notre Dame and are often spotted crossing the track during sessions.
🐻 @RGrosjean attempting to make up with the local groundhogs!
Not sure they’re quite ready to forgive yet, Romain 😆#CanadianGP #HaasF1 pic.twitter.com/7enRgQy8p0
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) June 6, 2019
Hello my dear friend, please do not cross the track when @f1 cars are coming. 😱😱😱 #r8g #CanadianGP pic.twitter.com/dWvd0nW8IF
— Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) June 6, 2019
They access the circuit via small holes in the barrier, and on the sight of Grosjean walking the track on Thursday, one of the groundhogs eyeballed him briefly before running back into its burrow. However, the groundhogs clearly didn’t read the final part of the Frenchman’s tweet to stay off the race track…
In the opening moments of Friday’s opening practice session, Formula 2 championship leader and Williams reserve driver Nicholas Latifi — replacing Robert Kubica for FP1, had a near miss with one of them.
Not today, little friend 😅#CanadianGP 🇨🇦 #F1 pic.twitter.com/MJq3pTUgCs
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 7, 2019
Fingers crossed there are no groundhog casualties this weekend.