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Paddock Postcard from Montreal 13 Jun 2004

Emerson Fittipaldi (BRA).
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, Qualifying Day, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, 12 June 2004 A welcome sight in the paddock.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, Qualifying Day, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, 12 June 2004

The behind-the-scenes build-up to Sunday's race

Montreal has been ‘en fete’ this weekend as the vibrant city fully embraces its Grand Prix. Besides the huge crowd on the Ile Notre Dame, the race has been celebrated in a number of street events such as carnivals and pit stop competitions.

Earlier in the week Mark Webber and Christian Klien demonstrated their ice hockey skills with the Montreal Canadians, while Sauber pilots Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa exercised different abilities when they visited the local headquarters of the world famous Cirque du Soleil. Founder Guy Laliberte returned the favour with several paddock appearances.

Among visiting star drivers making an appearance were former Indianapolis 500 winners Emerson Fittipaldi and Bobby Rahal.

The Historic Grand Prix sported some superbly prepared Formula One cars from the Seventies and Eighties, but was marred by an unfortunate accident which befell race leader Dan Marvin in his ex-Carlos Pace Brabham BT44 as he lapped David Kane in his ex-Hans Stuck March 741 in the Esses. They tangled after brushing wheels and the Brabham was pitched into a brush with the tyre wall, while the March went into it at a more acute angle. The race was stopped as Kane was tended to by medics.

Victory was ultimately awarded to Marvin from Dino Crescentini’s ex-Peter Revson McLaren M19 and former F3 star James King’s ex-Barmbilla March 761.

Formula BMW has come to north America this season, and following the inaugural pair of races at Lime Rock Park on May 29 and 31 the third and fourth rounds were held in Montreal this weekend.

Canadian James Hinchcliffe, the leader of the rookie championship, took pole position for the first from Jonathan Summerton and Billy Johnson. Series leader Andreas Wirth and Britain’s Dominik Jackson qualified first and second but were moved to the back of the grid after a small front wing adjustment infringements were discovered.

Summerton won the race by 2.6s from Hinchcliffe, with Matt Jaskol third. In one of the drives of the race Jackson carved back through to seventh by the finish, two places behind Wirth. Graham Rahal, son of former Jaguar Formula One team principal Bobby, qualified ninth but ran into trouble on the opening lap and had to climb back to a 12th place finish.

The second race takes place today, just before the Grand Prix. Hinchcliffe again had pole from Summerton and Johnson, with Rahal ninth and Wirth and Jackson once more having to start at the back.

Further details have also emerged in the Montreal paddock this weekend regarding the new qualifying format, expected to be introduced to Formula One racing at July’s British Grand Prix.

The qualifying hour is now expected to feature two 25-minute sessions separated by a ten-minute break, rather than the two 20-minute stints previously mooted. The exact format will not be confirmed until the next meeting of the World Motorsport Council at the end of June.