An Invitation To The Infiniti Red Bull Paddock Club45.5017° N, 73.5673° W
"During the Grand Prix Montreal is in a celebratory mood, race flags hang from every storefront and the champagne is in abundance"
The Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal carries with it a celebrated history, starting with native Gilles Villeneuve winning the first inaugural race in 1978. Since then it has been one of the most popular racing events in the world. During the Grand Prix the whole city is in a celebratory mood, race flags hang from every storefront and the champagne is in abundance. Meanwhile, exotic cars gallivant through the streets and everyone seems to be dressed up with somewhere to go. The Formula One celebrations start early as Thursday with outdoor venues being set up in between alleyways and the terraces are filled with locals and tourists alike. Celebrities are spotted throughout the city and news of their spotting is exchanged through social media. In some ways, the Grand Prix in Montreal is sort-of like an unofficial holiday for the city.
We were invited to spend the day at the Infiniti Red Bull Paddock Club at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve during the practices. Access to the Paddocks should not be taken lightly; it’s a place where the luxury, prestige and exclusivity of Formula One culminates. Almost everyone inside the paddocks is a hard-core fan of the sport and most likely work in the automotive industry. Others attendees include celebrities, media, and dignitaries, who are unmistakably fans as well. The sounds of conversation and the clanking of the champagne glasses are drowned out by the roar of the Formula One engines and the power tools below. While the smell of burnt rubber, gas and fumes wafted through the air.
Infiniti Red Bull’s Paddock Club is furnished comfortably and exquisitely. Each table had a bottle of red and white wine, along with a glass bottle of water. Our hosts came by frequently to refill our glasses and made sure we had enough to eat. In the middle of the practices we went behind-the-scenes into the team’s garage to watch them work. One of the team’s drivers, Daniel Ricciardo, had just pulled in and over headphones we heard him communicating with the engineers. He was giving his feedback on how his vehicle was performing and it was amazing to hear him analyze the situation solely based on how it was driving – we were instructed not to take pictures from where we were standing. Later we walked the pit lane and saw all the other teams at work, some of course, were more secretive than others with their process.
The Paddock Club at the Grand Prix is definitely the cream of the crop when it comes to the Formula One experience. The access, the food, and the hospitality is unlike no other racing event.
Words & Photography: Jon Carlo Tapia