The Canadian Grand Prix got underway in some of the coldest conditions seen recently during a race weekend, with track temperatures of just 20 degrees centigrade: putting the accent on tyre warm-up and management. There was a wide variety of one and two stop strategies, with polesitter Lewis Hamilton stopping just once in his Mercedes, but holding off the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, which stopped twice, having beaten Hamilton off the line to lead into the first corner.
Hamilton made his sole stop on lap 24, re-emerging in second place behind Vettel. Once Vettel made his second stop, he had a six-second deficit to try and make up to Hamilton in 33 laps, using soft tyres that were 13 laps younger than those on the Mercedes.
Despite the cold conditions, Nico Rosberg set the fastest lap of the race on the soft tyre, 10 laps from the end, lapping his Mercedes 1.4 seconds quicker than the 2015 fastest lap, which was set on supersoft.
Valtteri Bottas took the first podium of the season for Williams by using a similar strategy to Hamilton, while the remainder of the top 10 stopped twice, after starting on the ultrasoft – the fastest compound by around 0.6s per lap.
An alternative strategy was run by Force India’s Sergio Perez, who started on the soft tyre and completed a long first stint of 31 laps before making his sole stop for supersofts. The most impressive climber was Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, who used a two-stop strategy (finishing the race on the rapid ultrasoft) to end up ninth, after starting 20th on the grid.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Thanks to differing race strategies, we saw a grandstand finish, with the two-stopping Vettel closing in on the one-stopping Hamilton. Cool track temperatures made tyre management crucial, with some teams also switching strategies as it became clear that this might be quicker. Most drivers in fact stopped twice, compared to the one-stop race last year in Canada. Key to making a one-stopper work was looking after the tyres as effectively as possible, which Hamilton and Bottas both did brilliantly.”