Pirelli announced they were bringing the two softest compounds of tyre to this weekends Canadian Grand Prix in the form of its P Zero Yellow Soft and P Zero Red SuperSoft. These are the same two compounds as were used around the streets of Monte Carlo two weeks ago.
The layout of the circuit at Montreal is a vast contrast to Monte Carlo however, with a much higher average speed at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The surface of the track is usually low on grip and has managed to catch out many experienced drivers, most notably at the final corner with the infamous ‘wall of champions’ on its outside.
Traction and braking are usually the two main contributors to tyre wear in Montreal, and with this years extra torque and reduced downforce, it could contribute to a greater wear rate than in the past. The inconsistent asphalt surface of the track also puts extra strain onto the tyres, with the different surfaces offering differing levels of grip.
Paul Hembery, the Motorsport Director of Pirelli, expects the tyres to be worked a lot harder in Canada compared to Monaco two weeks ago.
“We’re expecting the tyres to be worked a lot harder in Canada than they were in Monaco, with a lot more energy and greater forces going through them due to much higher speeds,” said Hembery. “This should lead to the maximum possible mechanical grip, which is certainly what’s needed in Montreal. There’s a high degree of track evolution and we frequently see a lot of sliding – especially with reduced downforce this year – which obviously puts an increased amount of stress on the tyre. But we are still expecting to have contained wear and degradation this weekend, even on the two softest tyres in the range.
“Canada always tends to be an unpredictable race where strategy can make a real difference, also because of the high probability of safety cars. As we saw in Monaco, taking the right strategy opportunities when they present themselves under unusual circumstances is a key element to success at any circuit that falls outside the usual mould, with Canada being a prime example.
“Historically, there’s a reasonable chance of rain, in which case judging the crossover points – sometimes without previous data, if each previous session has been dry – becomes crucial.”
Former Formula 1 driver and 1995 Canadian Grand Prix winner Jean Alesi is a consultant for Pirelli, and predicts the rear tyres will be the ones to suffer more in Montreal.
“Montreal is quite a special and unusual circuit, with high speeds and an interesting mix of a street circuit and a permanent track,” said Alesi. “From a driver’s perspective, the most important thing is to maintain the rear tyres in the best possible condition. There aren’t really any long corners, so the stress on the tyres in Canada is primarily longitudinal, under acceleration and braking. You have to be very careful getting on the power, otherwise you can wear out the tyres and then braking becomes very difficult too.
“It’s not a physically demanding track for the driver but it demands utmost concentration under braking, especially at the chicane before the pits, where the famous ‘wall of champions’ is waiting.
“Personally, I’ll always remember Canada for my win in 1995: it was my only F1 win, on my birthday, and with the legendary number 27 on the car, just like Gilles Villeneuve. The emotion was unbelievable.”