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HomeClassic Car InvestPirelli calculated qualifying times within a second despite freshly-resurfaced asphalt in Montreal

Pirelli calculated qualifying times within a second despite freshly-resurfaced asphalt in Montreal

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Formula One’s tyre manufacturer Pirelli stated their pre-event simulation predicted qualifying times particularly precisely, with the quickest lap of the entire weekend being within a second of their estimated best lap. F1Technical’s lead writer Balazs Szabo delivers his tyre report.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has been totally resurfaced for this year which has presented teams with a new variable for their pre-event simulation. The sport’s tyre manufacturer also carries out a raft of simulation over the weekend to calculate possible tyre wear, degradation and potential strategies.

The Milan-based tyre supplier claimed that the quickest lap of the weekend that was completed by Mercedes driver George Russell in the second qualifying segment was within less than a second of the predicted pole position based on simulations prior to the event.

The Briton will start today’s Canadian Grand Prix from pole position despite failing to match his best time in the all-important Q3. The Mercedes driver was quickest of all, courtesy of his Q2 time of 1’11”742 but in the Q3 session to decide the top ten places on the grid, he actually lapped in exactly 1’12 seconds, a time matched by Max Verstappen, but Russell takes the number one grid slot by virtue of having been first to set the time.

Assessing yesterday’s qualifying session, Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Mario Isola said: “It was a very closely contested qualifying from start to finish with the times being incredibly close, evidenced by the fact that the two quickest drivers set identical times, while the top ten featured drivers from six different teams.

“So far, the weekend has been affected by changing weather conditions and everything would suggest that this will also be the case tomorrow. Even though all of today’s running took place on a dry track, there was still only a very limited amount of data gathered, given that the teams were only able to do long runs in the third free practice sessions.

This is Russell’s second ever pole, following on from the one at the Hungaroring in 2022. In fact, last year a Mercedes was on pole in Hungary, this time with Lewis Hamilton receiving the Pirelli miniature tyre award and today is the Anglo-German team’s 138th pole, its sixth here in Montreal.

As for today’s strategy, Pirelli expect drivers to commit themselves to a two-stop approach. It is because drivers have the three softest compounds available, and the red-walled rubber appeared to be quite vulnerable and showed relatively high degradation. Such was the degradation on the C5 that Pirelli thinks that it will not make an appearance during the race as drivers will prefer the medium and the hard compounds.

The most possible scenario would see drivers start on the yellow-walled mediums to have ideal grip off the line. After completing a stint of 15-21 laps on the C2, they could revert to the white-banded hards for a long middle stint.

Pirelli estimates that those who elect to a two-stopper it is very much possible to end the race on the Hard or the Medium compound, depending on their allocation for the race.

A one-stop strategy could also be on the cards, although it would involve some tyre management, mainly during the opening stint when cars run on a heavy fuel load. Should someone decide for a single stop, they could elect to start on the mediums before completing the second half of the race on the hards.

However, the short pit loss time (18.5 seconds) is usually a key factor for drivers to opt for a two-stop strategy in Montreal. In the past years, the chance for a safety car or virtual safety car interruption has been 67 per cent, and pitting under these conditions means that a pit stop only takes 9.5 seconds which is also another variable to consider when deciding the optimal strategy.

However, with all the uncertainty around the weather conditions, all these calculations might be thrown out of the windows. Currently, clouds dominate the sky above Montreal with the rain threatening the time slot in which the race takes place.

“As expected, the track which has been completely resurfaced since last year, is still very green and therefore we saw very obvious evolution. This also led to significant graining, particularly with the Medium, which is the compound that almost everyone used for long runs.

“Therefore, it is increasingly likely that, if we have a dry race, the most effective strategy is a two-stop, the predominant choice being to use two sets of Hard tyres and that explains why seven teams still have two sets available for each driver.

“The one-stop strategy, using a combination of Medium and Hard, is possible on paper, but it’s very marginal. It’s not impossible that someone might try to start the race with this in mind, while retaining the flexibility to switch to a two-stop,” Isola concluded.

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