Formula One: New deal ensures Canada GP next year

Lewis Hamilton (left) and world title leader Nico Rosberg. The Briton, who has won the world championship three times, will do his best at the Abu Dhabi GP on Sunday to prevent his Mercedes team-mate from joining Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vett
Lewis Hamilton (left) and world title leader Nico Rosberg. The Briton, who has won the world championship three times, will do his best at the Abu Dhabi GP on Sunday to prevent his Mercedes team-mate from joining Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel as the only other Germans to win the world title.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Despite push for upgrades to track, Montreal to mark country's 50 years of hosting F1 races

MONTREAL • The Canadian Formula One Grand Prix will go ahead next June, after the organisers reached an agreement in principle with the sport's commercial rights holders.

The race was one of three, along with Brazil and Germany, listed with an asterisk against it as subject to confirmation on the sport's provisional 2017 calendar.

Formula One's 86-year-old commercial supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, has been pushing for improvements to the circuit but said this month he was hopeful the race would remain on the calendar.

"There will be a Grand Prix of Canada in 2017," Montreal mayor Denis Coderre said on Twitter.

The organisers said separately in a statement that tickets for the June 9-11 race would go on sale today.

Next year's race will celebrate 50 years of Formula One in Canada, with the country having a driver on the grid for the first time since the 1997 world champion, Jacques Villeneuve, retired in 2006.

That driver is Montreal-born teenager Lance Stroll, who will race for the Williams team.

"Montreal and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve produce one of the most exciting grands prix of the season," said Francois Dumontier, president and CEO of race promoter Octane Racing Group. "In 2017, everyone will have even more good reasons to be there."

Formula One fans also have a very good reason to be at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend, when championship holder Lewis Hamilton will duel for the title with team-mate Nico Rosberg in the final race of the season.

Rosberg needs only to finish on the Yas Marina podium to become Germany's third world champion after Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.

"I will give it everything to end the season with a win," he said, even if cynics suspect he would be happy enough to settle for a fourth successive second place. "I've had a great week, relaxing and catching up with my family and friends, so I feel like I'm in a good place."

Hamilton, who started the year tipped to become Britain's first four-time world champion, is 12 points behind Rosberg. He must finish in the top three to have any hope but, in his mind, has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

"I'm faced with pretty impossible odds no matter what I do this weekend. But I can't and won't give up. You never know what might happen, however unlikely it may seem," he said.

In fact, four of Hamilton's nine wins this season (Monaco, Canada, Austria and Germany) came with Rosberg off the podium - a result that, if repeated for a fifth time in 21 races on Sunday, would hand him the title.

Not quite the impossible odds he has suggested.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline 'New deal ensures Canada GP next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe