338,000 fans were in attendance at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve over the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix weekend as Formula 1 returned to Montreal for the first time since 2019.
Formula 1 was back in Montreal for the first time since 2019 and fans flocked to the circuit to see the pinnacle of motorsport race at the Canadian Grand Prix once more. The 70-lap race was won by Max Verstappen, who became Circuit Gilles Villeneuve’s 24th different winner since the venue first joined the Formula 1 calendar in 1978.
338,000 fans passed through the turnstiles over the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix weekend. The figure is up 31,000 on the last Montreal race in 2019, when 307,000 fans were in attendance.
Attendance figures for the Canadian Grand Prix prior to 2017 are treated with some scepticism. In 2017, the race promoter announced that a record 360,000 fans were in attendance over the race weekend. That made it the best-attended race of the season.
However, in December 2018, when that year’s attendance figures were released, F1 retrospectively changed the attendance figure for the 2017 race to just 180,000, raising questions about how exactly Montreal’s race attendance figures had been calculated in the past. The exact figure for the 2018 race was not publicly released but is believed to have been under 200,000 for a second year in succession.
Wet weather disrupts proceedings
Ted Kravtiz noted on Sky Sports F1 that the organisation of this year’s Canadian Grand Prix had “slightly shown that they haven’t had a race for three years”. There was strong demand for access to the pit lane walk on Thursday, which reached full capacity, leading to long queues and some fans being turned away without access.
The weather in the early part of the weekend did not help matters on the organisational side of things. Heavy rain – and even a tornado warning – on Thursday saw F1 Experiences’ trackside activities shifted to Saturday.
On Saturday, the planned driver autograph session was cancelled due to traffic issues. Fans who had waited in the rain to meet the drivers were offered signed cards to collect from the Fan Zone later in the day. Many were disappointed to find that these cards had only printed autographs, rather than being hand-signed.
Two Canadians on the grid
For the first time since 1969, two home drivers started their home race at the Canadian Grand Prix. Both Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi were eliminated in the first part of qualifying on Saturday, but Stroll fought back to pick up a point on Sunday afternoon. This was the third time Stroll scored at the Canadian Grand Prix, having picked up the first points of his F1 career on home soil in 2017. For Latifi, this was his first home race appearance, with Canada absent from the calendar in both 2020 and 2021.
Canada’s motorsport heritage was celebrated over the weekend. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Gilles Villeneuve’s death. On the circuit that bears his name, the Ferrari drivers’ grid slots were painted red in his honour.
Attendance figures continue to grow in 2022
The Canadian Grand Prix continues a strong run of attendance figures at Formula 1 races in 2022. Bahrain’s season-opener attracted a record crowd for the Sakhir circuit, the 2022 Australian Grand Prix was the best-attended weekend sporting event in Melbourne’s history and the Spanish Grand Prix welcomed its biggest race day crowd in almost 15 years.
The brand new Miami Grand Prix attracted 240,000 visitors, while the first ticketed F1 race at Imola since 2006 was a sell-out, with 64,000 in the grandstands on Sunday alone.
Next up is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, which was the best-attended race of the season in both 2018 and 2019. Silverstone’s weekend attendance figure in 2021 was 356,000, with only the United States Grand Prix (400,000) and the Mexico City Grand Prix (371,000) attracting larger crowds. It’s set to be another record-breaking British Grand Prix weekend in 2022, with tickets already having sold out.