Paddock Postcard from Montreal 10 Jun 2012
The Formula One bandwagon may have left glamorous (and hectic) Monaco behind to cross the Atlantic to Canada, but the paddocks arrival in Montreal didnt mean there was any let up in the drivers pre-race schedules.
Red Bulls Mark Webber was amongst the busiest, trying his hand at skydiving, albeit in the relative safety of a ground-level simulator. As part of the event, organised by Red Bull sponsor Infiniti, Webber met up with Red Bull Air Force's Jon DeVore to learn the ropes before he gave DeVore some driving tips. The pair then took part in a spectacular race - parachute versus road car; gravity versus performance - which resulted in a near dead heat.
Toro Rosso duo Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were also kept busy with high-flying pursuits. The pair joined the internationally renowned circus troupe Cirque du Soleil at their headquarters and tried out some of the equipment.
First up was a thing called the German Wheel which is basically a big metal wheel into which youre strapped and then the idea is that you use your body strength to roll it round, explained Vergne. We also tried out something called the Aerial Hoop, which is basically a seat which can be hoisted really high.
Ricciardo added: Fortunately this stuff didnt require that much in the way of input from us - we just had to sit there and enjoy it. Afterwards we got to see the show, which was a whole lot of fun. The only downside was that, seeing how strong and how graceful the performers are, I felt pretty weak and scrawny afterwards!
The Canadian race weekend itself kick started with the now traditional Le Grand Soir benefit party. Formula One group CEO Bernie Ecclestone and 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve were just two of the famous faces at the event.
For the latter its a very special weekend at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Thirty years after the death of his father - the man after whom the track was named - both he and Gilles widow Joanne are visitors, with Jacques joining fellow ex-driver Johnny Herbert on television commentary duties as a pundit.
Other world champions included double Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda and Mario Andretti, who was recently announced as an ambassador for the Circuit of The Americas, venue for the upcoming 2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
Other famous racing faces included former Long Beach Grand Prix organiser Chris Pook and long-time racing guru Rod Campbell, Ron Dennis, Derek Daly, Bertrand Gachot, Tyler Alexander, Tim Mayer, legendary photographer Gary Gold and writer Gordon Kirby, and Ken Anderson, the man behind the ill-starred USF1 programme. Martin Donnelly was the FIAs driver steward.
From other sports came Philip Board, CEO of London football club Queens Park Rangers, down at Caterham, while the entertainment world provided race fans Anthony Edwards and Jason Priestley.
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