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June 09, 2014

Pirelli: the Canadian Grand Prix

Canadian Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo.
Canadian Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo.

High temperatures in Montreal, and a lengthy safety car period right at the beginning of the race, meant that tire strategy formed a central part of a thrilling Canadian Grand Prix, with the teams having to assimilate to a new set of tire characteristics compared to the cooler conditions of free practice and qualifying.

The race was won by Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, with the top five separated by just five seconds in the closing stages of the race. tire strategy was central, with drivers on younger and fresher tires using them to gain an advantage as the grand prix drew to a close. Ricciardo took the lead with just two laps to go, from Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, while Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel completed the podium. All three adopted a two-stop strategy.

The highest-placed one-stopper was Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg in fifth, who started on the soft tire and completed a 41-lap stint before his single stop from the soft to the supersoft. His team mate Sergio Perez also stopped only once: switching from the supersoft to the soft on lap 35; exactly half-distance. An accident on the final lap between him and Williams driver Felipe Massa, while both were fighting for a possible podium, meant that neither could finish the race, which concluded behind the safety car.

Nonetheless, both their strategies had launched them into podium contention, with Massa benefitting from the extra speed of tires that were considerably younger than those of his rivals during the final stint.

Another safety car period, lasting eight laps right at the beginning of the race, altered the strategy, with tire degradation at the most critical fuel-heavy period minimized. Wear on both compounds was generally low, despite track temperatures that exceeded 45 degrees centigrade and 30 degrees centigrade ambient.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Once again, Canada delivered a thrilling grand prix: this time in hot conditions, which led to plenty of interesting tire strategies. With such an action-packed race, we saw plenty of improvisation from several drivers as they attempted to use tire strategy to their best advantage. Congratulations to Daniel Ricciardo for his first win after a truly memorable race. Congratulations also to Force India, which has often taken a different approach to tire strategy compared to their rivals in all the time we have been involved in Formula One. In Canada this led to a good result, which could have been even better had it not been for the accident right at the end, demonstrating again how tire strategy can be used to boost final positions.”

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