Quebecer Donald Lauture experienced Max Verstappen’s first coronation like no one else: by having the champion and his team dance on a yacht.

Donald Lauture has been a DJ at the Formula 1 Paddock Club for six years. This year, he will be present for 15 of the 22 races on the calendar, including this weekend in Montreal. We met him on Friday afternoon, during free practice, the only time of day when he can get away from his mixing desk.

The Montrealer remembers this day of December 12, 2021, in Abu Dhabi, as if it were yesterday. He smiles with full teeth while telling us about it.

Coincidentally, he wasn’t in the Paddock Club that day; he had been called in to replace the DJ at the Red Bull stable in the team suite upstairs in the garage.

F1 fans will remember this first championship for Verstappen, who trailed until the very last lap of a final race that would determine who, him or Lewis Hamilton, would be crowned.

On lap 53, an accident for driver Nicholas Latifi forced the exit of the safety car. This is where everything was decided, when the race direction had allowed a last lap to be held… The Dutchman, with fresh tires, was able to overtake Hamilton in the last seconds to win.

“When there were 10 towers left, you could see the atmosphere in the square, it was dead. I have videos,” says Lauture.

Initially, the Red Bull after-party to celebrate the championship was to take place in a hotel, explains the DJ, but Mercedes filed two challenges to the final result. The team therefore canceled its evening, pending the verdict. It wasn’t until hours later that Verstappen was officially crowned champion.

“I get a call at 2 a.m. Donald, where are you? I reply that I am at my hotel. They tell me: you have to come back, Max is on a yacht and he wants a DJ. He was crowned champion. »

The party lasted until 6 a.m. “It was pretty impressive to be there for that moment. It was truly an iconic moment in F1 history. »

At 44, Donald Lauture has traveled, and still travels, around the world through his work. A remarkable feat for someone who started DJing at the age of 15 “for fun”.

His first “big gig” came in 1999, at the defunct Le Dôme bar in Montreal. Then he “never looked back again.”

One thing leading to another, his work took him internationally. Since 2009, he stopped counting the time spent on planes: Paris, London, Dubai, Hong Kong…

“It’s not a matter of being better than the other, it’s just a matter of asking. Me, I ask. I send emails, I manage myself. I don’t have a manager, I never had a manager. I have a lot of friends too who have helped me. »

The opportunity to work for Formula 1 came by chance. In 2015, he hosted Red Bull’s official DJ in Montreal. A year later, the latter called him three days before the start of the Canadian Grand Prix.

“He tells me that his guy who travels with F1 for him can’t come back because he didn’t get his visa. He asks me if I’m available. I say, well, yeah, I’m coming. I did over the weekend. »

The following year he was invited back. In 2018, he did six races, then 13 in 2019, 13 in 2020… Today, at the age of 44, Donald Lauture no longer travels to mix. He mixes to travel.

“I use the fact that I’m a DJ to go and discover different places,” he sums up.