How the F1 teams will approach the Canadian Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Jun 2012   |  2:00 pm GMT  |  120 comments

Montreal is always one of the most interesting races of the season from a strategy point of view. With a very high likelihood of safety cars, a low grip surface and very easy overtaking, it is always an entertaining race.

This year the performance of the unpredicatable Pirelli tyres will be a decisive factor as will the effect of the adjustable DRS wing. Last year in Montreal there were two DRS zones, but this year to make it less easy, there is just one – on the long back straight – and it’s 100 metres shorter than last year.

Montreal has several long straights linked with chicanes and a hairpin. There are no high-speed corners to speak of. Good traction out of slow corners is essential as is good straight-line speed and a car that is good over the kerbs.

Montreal is an unusual circuit in that it is a road circuit based on an island and is only used for racing twice a year. The track is very dirty at the start of the weekend and improves dramatically as the weekend goes on, although the grip level remains low. So the strategists have to predict what the tyres are going to do in the race, based on data, which is a moving target.

Track characteristics

Montreal – 4.36 kilometers. Race distance – 70 laps = 305 kilometers. 12 corners in total. A circuit made up of straights, chicanes and a hairpin

Aerodynamic setup – Medium downforce. Top speed 326km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 316km/h without.

Full throttle – 67% of the lap (quite high). 15 seconds unbroken full throttle on main straight. Total fuel needed for race distance – 142 kilos (average/high).

Fuel consumption – 2.0kg per lap (average/high)

Time spent braking: 17% of lap (high). 7 braking zones. Brake wear- Very High.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 11.2 seconds (very fast)
Total time needed for pit stop: 15.2 seconds.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.28 seconds (low)

Form Guide

The Canadian Grand Prix is the seventh round of the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship.

Qualifying is less important at Montreal than many other circuits, because overtaking is easy and this also has a big bearing on race strategy, pushing teams towards more stops rather than less.

However the statistics for this season show that the car which leads on the opening lap is likely to win the race; this has happened in four of the five dry races to date. This is because it is beneficial to the tyres to drive in clear air rather than following another car. They last longer and perform better, by a significant margin.

The circuit’s characteristics should suit the Mercedes and Lotus cars in particular. If it’s cold, then the Mercedes will have the edge, if it’s hot it will be the Lotus.

Meanwhile the Ferrari has always been strong in Montreal and works well on the combination of soft and supersoft tyres. But so far this year their car has been weaker than its rivals on straight-line speed. However some updates are promised for this weekend, which may help that. The Ferrari is good in traction and works well on the super soft Pirelli which is the likely qualifying and first stint tyre this weekend.

Red Bull has come into form since Bahrain with two wins from three races.
Historically this has not been one of Red Bull’s strongest circuits; downforce isn’t a major factor here.

McLaren has been fast in qualifying but less good in the race recently.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned; Michael Schumacher is the king of Montreal, having won the race seven times. It is also one of Lewis Hamilton’s strongest tracks – he has won there twice. Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen have all won the race.

Weather Forecast

Being coastal and set on a seaway, Montreal can experience extremes of weather for the race; it can be very hot and humid, but also cold and wet. This will have a huge bearing on the tyres. In the week preceding the event, there were temperatures of 15 degrees on one day and 28 degrees on another. It is the most extreme circuit location for temperature variations.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Montreal: Prime tyre is Soft (yellow markings) and Option tyre is Super Soft (red markings)

This is the same tyre choice as Monaco, where the performance of the tyres surprised many people. Both the soft and super soft ran for longer than expected making it a one stop strategy race.

The key to making the super soft last is to limit wheel spin with the rear tyres. This happens when the drivers accelerate out of the low speed corners. Strangely with the Pirellis the drivers find it more difficult to feel wheel spin and as traction control is banned in F1, it’s a delicate thing to control.

The difference between the two tyres is estimated to be around 0.8 secs to 1 second per lap in qualifying trim.

The temperatures will be the key to the weekend. Hot conditions will force the teams to change the tyres more frequently.

Race Strategy: Number and likely timing of pit stops

At Montreal this weekend the key to strategy will be to plan your fastest race from lights to flag. Because of the ease of passing, track position is less important than at many other venues. The most important thing is to qualify well and run your fastest race and see where that puts you at the end, because you will not have problems overtaking. Running in clear air as much of the race as possible is key, so if a car doesn’t qualify as well as expected, we may see the team try and aggressive strategy to keep the driver in clear air.

But as the track is constantly improving and getting faster, it is unlikely that the strategists will have enough data by the start of the race to know for certain which is the better of the two tyres to be on. It will be based on reacting to what others are doing quickly. This should make it one of the most interesting as well as action-packed races of the season.

The pit lane at Montreal is short and therefore pit stops are very fast at around 18.7 seconds. This pushes strategists to consider making more stops.

A three-stop strategy is marginally faster than two stops (roughly half a position, according to models). One stop would mean that the car was ahead of the two and three stoppers at their final stops, but they would easily be able to pass the one stopper in the closing stages on his worn tyres. However a safety car would swing things towards the one stopper.

Chance of a safety car

The chances of a safety car at Montreal are very high at 67%. There is an average of 0.8 safety cars per race. Seven of the last ten Canadian Grands Prix have featured a safety car.

This is because, with the track lined with walls and several blind corners, there are frequent accidents and the conditions for the marshals when clearing an accident are dangerous.

Recent start performance

The run to the first corner in Montreal is short and there have been many first corner incidents over the years. But it is also a first corner where there are many lines and making up places is possible.

In the last dry race here in 2010, for example, only the front four cars ended the first lap in the same position in which they started!

As far as 2012 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season, on aggregate, as follows –


+23 Massa
+19 Kovalainen
+18 Glock
+14 Alonso
+8 Perez ***
+12 Raikkonen
+9 Senna
+8 Maldonado****
+7 Pic
+5 Schumacher*
+6 Kobayashi****
+5 Hamilton, Vergne
+ 4 Di Resta , Karthikeyan
+ 2 
+1 Button, Rosberg

Held position: Petrov
-1 Grosjean** ****
-3 De la Rosa ****
– 4 Hulkenberg
– 7 Webber
-10 Ricciardo
* Senna, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were all involved in accidents on 1st lap in Australia
** Schumacher and Grosjean collided on Lap 1 in Malaysia, Senna and Perez pitted for wet tyres on opening lap
***Perez punctured on lap 1 in Spain and went to back of field
**** Eliminated by or involved in first lap accident in Monaco

Pit Stop League Table
Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams. Here again Ferrari leads the way consistently this year.

It is also clear that the field has significantly closed up in pit stops. The top four teams fastest stops were within 4/10ths of a second of each other in Spain. It shows how much work has gone on in this area.
The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the Monaco Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it. The positions from previous race are in brackets.
Worth noting is that Marussia did a faster stop than many established teams and Mercedes reclaimed the top spot after Ferrari had topped the table in recent races.

1. Mercedes 24.874 (1),
2. Ferrari 24.993 (3)
3. Red Bull 25.079 (1)
4. McLaren 25.219
5. Toro Rosso 25.335 (6)
6. Marussia 25.567 (12)
7. Force India 25.642 (4)
8. Sauber 25.666 (9)
9. Caterham 26.066 (10)

10. Lotus 26.380 (8)
11 Williams 26.410 (7)
12. HRT 27.306 (11)

The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli

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Merc has got good engine and top speed advantage, I think MS will end up on top of the podium/


Isn't it a widely held belief that the Mercedes engine is inferior to the Renault and Ferrari engines due to higher fuel consumption?


It uses more fuel, but i believe it's slightly more powerful.

The fuel penalty in Canada isn't large, so we shouldn't see too much of a problem.

I think the Renault engine also has the advantage in drive-ability, it's most likely less peaky than the Mercedes.


Higher fuel consumption, but i believe also more power.


Fuel yes, power no.


Due to his especific rear tyre wear problems, i think he will most likely be in P6-P10.


James, I'm a little unsure how the start performance metric is calculated, surely for any driver to gain one place another must lose a place, thus the aggregate gain/lose performance should equal zero? Here it seems most drivers have gained, with few losing overall - 25 total places lost with Massa alone having made up 23...


For a driver to gain a place, another must lose a place so, yes, the net total should be zero. I think though, where there are **, these places lost are not taken into consideration but the positions gained are.


I think it is that certain results such as Grojean's retirement in Monaco are excluded from his score while the rest of field from 5th down gained a place so that is a net 22 rather than zero.


I think, that the point everybody is trying to make, is that the current way of calculating the table is skewed. I think a reasonable simple way to fix it, is to exclude positions gained through retirements in the first lap (In addition to the exclusion of positions lost due to such retirements). That would lead to more meaningful statistics when indeed the sum of gains and loses would be zero.


Sorry I was being daft, glad it wasn't just me thinking it, and thanks for the replies-Martin has hit the nail on the head all the *'d driver comments do make the positions sum to a net zero (I think!).




It's done individually; a drivers' places gained, minus his places lost.


Is it calculated as per the following example: 4th on the grid took the lead and those who were 1st, 2nd and 3rd become 2nd, 3rd and 4th, without changes places themselves. You would show 1 driver +3, and the other 3 as no change, even though they have all lost a place.

If this is the case it explains the disproportion between the positives and negatives.


lol @ JA's answer 😀


If you start 5th on the grid and you come around at the end of lap 1 in 6th place, you have lost a place, right?


James, is your method calculated at the end of first lap or after the first corner? 🙂



James, Charlie makes an interesting observation here which your answer doesn't seem to explain.

It seems to me that for the first lap of any given race, the total places gained by drivers (overtaking) must equal the total places lost by those being overtaken. And so the sum of all the places lost over a season (or any part of it) should equal the number of places lost, as opposed to 141 places being gained with only 25 lost! Do you have any idea why that might be?

Thank you for a fantastic website.

Ashish Sharma

Dear James,

Just to check. I believe the Stats for the starts are compiled based on Position at the End of the First lap and the grid position. Then based on your previous strategy reports, Sergio should be +15 and Kamui +5, while they are in the correct places the numbers are incorrect, seems like a copy paste error. Also Heiki's position is corrected for the first lap puncture in Bahrain so he should also get a star. 🙂

Also while i understand the need to remove crashes and punctures from the reckoning it gives everyone +1 or in the case when there were 4 retirements like in Malaysia, a +4, so it does tend to skew up the table. Do you think it would be better to adjust for that also?

With regards,



Shouldn't they still add up to zero?


I meant adding up all the positions won/lost by all drivers. At the moment, what is shown is a positive which doesnt add up. In order for someone to gain a position, someome else needs to loose one so the total will be zero in all races whether combined or not. Unless there are other factors not memtioned.

James Clayton

what? why?


I think if you start 2nd on the grid and finish 1st in the first race you are +1. Do it again in the second race and you are +2, or if you start 2nd and finish 4th you are back to zero and so on.


Only if you add drivers results together



May I ask

1) What makes a car good over the Kerbs and do we know which top teams might have the edge on this?

2) I notice that usually Renault, I mean lotus, have good relative straight line speed, but I was wondering if that would also be the case in a track with less downforce. Does it make a difference or none?

And finally I wanted to suggest that maybe Mercedes do not struggle anymore under hot temperatures. Pole in Monaco was under heat. So probably they managed to adapt.


To add to xvohj's reply, the spring rate is also important. Firmer springs are great to aerodynamics to control ride height in particular as the fuel load changes. McLaren tends to run firmer springs than most of the other teams. The greater spring rate means that the rebound control by the damper would need to be stronger if only control over bumps is important. However, dampers also influence the understeer-oversteer balance as they affect the nature of weight transfer, particularly on the diagonally opposing wheels.




"What makes a car good over the Kerbs?"

Actually it is a very complicated thing as usual anything related with F1 cars but simply what effects a F1 car's behave most over kerbs is related with fast dampers (bump and rebound). Dampers on a F1 car are 4way adjustable. Fast bump - fast rebound, slow bump - slow rebound. Slow damper adjustment most related with cornering balance, fast damper adjustment more related with cars ability to handle over bumpy surfaces.

But since all this adjustments are effected from each other and all have negative and positive effects when ever you make a change, one must always should reach a compromise between the various adjustments.


Thanks for that.


Thanks James. Looking forward to this weekend.

One small suggestion as it might confuse some fans in regards to the Pit Stop League Table. The positions in brackets are from last season, not from the race before Monaco.



It's good then that the Canadian Grand Prix comes straight after the Monaco GP i.e. From one extreme to the next in terms of the show.

And yes it's thanks to the Canada race that we finally got these heaven-sent Pirelli rubber that have finally turned this sport into a thrilling show where you have the little guy having his day in the sun.

Now the stats from the Canadian Grand Prix are a reminder to anyone why Schumi is referred to as the Kaiser in the paddock for with 7 wins & the next best (Piquet) with 3, another bunch of drivers with two wins & the rest having one win each, prove when it comes to winning at all costs, one should look no further than the Schumi.

And yes it's true, qualifying isn't really important here for the last 10 years (since 2001), only 3 out of 10 have won from pole.

Alright some more stats from our geeks at Wikipedia.

Been racing at this Island track since 1978 (with the exception of 1987 & 2009) and in that time Ferrari have won 10 times, Mclaren 8 and Williams 7 whereas in the past 10 years (since 2001) ---> Mclaren 4 wins, Ferrari 3 wins though Ferrari haven't won since 2003.

Senna & Hammy have won here twice, Prost & Alonso once whereas Jenson & Damon Hill -- once

No team has won any Canadian Grand Prix more than 3 times on the trot with the exception of Ferrari (2000-2003)

The only drivers to have won back to back races at this particular track are Alan Jones (1979-80) and the Kaiser ( 1997-98) and (2000-2003)

Now get this, success at this particular track maybe not be such a good idea for anybody harbouring Championship ambitions for only 12 wins in the last 32 years have also gone on to clinch the title.

And of those 12 pilots, most had dominate cars the entire season or in the first half of the season with the exception of Schumi in (2000 and 2003) and possibly Senna in 1990.

Now the conclusions I can draw from these stats is;

Lotus (Grosjean) are the most likely winners whereas drivers I do not except to see on the podium ---> Jenson, Vettel, Webber & good old Alonso.

Alright, it's off to the bookies then.


"And of those 12 pilots, most had dominate cars the entire season or in the first half of the season with the exception of Schumi in (2000 and 2003) and possibly Senna in 1990

Lotus (Grosjean) are the most likely winners whereas drivers I do not except to see on the podium —> Jenson, Vettel, Webber & good old Alonso.

Alright, it’s off to the bookies then"

bound to lose for sure 🙂


I do enjoy reading your posts gf.

Just one thing I'd like to ask, since when has Schumacher ever been called the Kaiser? In the paddock or by the fans or media. You are the only one who I have ever heard call him that.

A close friend has worked for F.O.M since 2000 and he's never mentioned the word Kaiser in reference to Schumacher.


He is called like that now and then in Germany.


Not true! Franz Beckenbauer is called the Kaiser and he played and managed soccer on the highest level possible.

The most known term for Michael Schumacher in Deutschland, is simply Schumi.

I can't wait to watch the race, Canada is always exciting. Let's see how many victims the "wall of Champoins" will claim this time around.


It must be his own personal term of endearment. LOL!;)


Great analysis but it ignores one fundamental thing. The unpredictable Pirelli tyres. This race will be a roller coaster, it will all be turned on it's head!


Great post, great work as usual, James. Do you think Saubers can have a better performance this weekend? I would like to see them again fighting for P4-P8.


They were fast here in the BMW days so I assume they will still be pretty quick.


Great intro to the race. Glad to see the changes in the DRS authorized use for this race, as there are many chances to overtake regardless. All and all, it would seem that pre-race favorites, soon fail to live up to expectation. Let's see what happen this time around. Seems sure to be a good race though. Marc


Off topic here James, what's the word on Timo Glock in the pitlane? He is not mentioned in any talk of drivers switching teams next season. He was in demand around 2009. Do you think he's lost his chance to go to a front running team now?


There are many other better options than Glock.

Tornillo Amarillo

I hate Canada's last race since Button couldn't see Hamilton in his mirrors, because he won with 2 DRS zones -hyper-easy- and because it was 2 hours of rainning and waiting and I left the circuit before the restart. But on TV was good.


More DRS bashing? If it was so easy, why didn't everybody come way up the field like Button did?

Don't forget that DRS works both ways. If you try to pass someone, you still have to make it stick and then you have to defend against them them trying to re-pass in subsequent DRS zones. And staying within a second behind a car to be able to use DRS is no easy feat in the dirty air, especially when the tires tend to go off much more quickly there. So IMO all DRS is doing is allowing the better cars and drivers to get on with business without being unnecessarily blocked, and yet it still puts a premium on skill.

P.S. If you didn't like last year's Canadian GP, you are mighty hard to please. Bring a rain jacket next time. 😛

Tornillo Amarillo

Well actually I did, and they change the rules to put a limit of 4 hours, and they change the 2 DRS zones for only 1, shorter.

But still I got the Button's mirror there...



A little off subject, is there a trophy of sorts for the team with the best record at pit stops during the year? I seem to remember something was given during the re-fuelling period.

I only ask as you have a table showing the teams pit stops.


Sky give an award at each race.


hopefully my williams team are on it this weekend. should suit the fw34 and pastor in particular


yep my team as well,quali all important for pastor.the FW34 is super fast in race trim.Here's hoping were having a beer at the end. cheers


the car has massive potential. just need for them to stay out of trouble e.g perez..yep i agree mate! gillan said top 5 was possible in monaco so hopefully pastor and bruno can deliver



Have you ever thought about weighting the Gained, Held and Lost statistics relative to starting position? My thought is that gains made from the back of the grid should have a lower weighting than those from the front and conversely losses at the back should have a higher weighting than those at the front.

I suggest this because first the number of cars available to overtake or be passed by varies by start position, and the current statistics penalize consistent good qualifying performances and reward poor qualifying. Second the performance of the cars, all things being equal, is greater at the front of the grid, again making overtaking harder the further forward you start.

If nothing else it would be an interesting exercise to see how the results differ in a weighted analysis.


Its already been invented - if you start from pole and nobody passes you, they call you the race winner and you dont care about starting postion win/loss ratios.

Lets not try to complicate things any further!


Please suggest how you would do it


Maybe taking into account lap times or the total time it takes a car to reach the finish line compared to others would work.

FIS (skiing's governing body) has a point system that is calculated by how far back of the winner you finish, and what those winners points are. eg] The higher your ranking, the lower your points are. So if you finish x number of seconds behind the best guy in the world (who has 0 points), you might "earn" 10 points.

You have to beat racers with better points in races with that also have other low points holders to lower your points. It's a pretty good system, albeit quite complicated. For math nerds here is a decent explanation:


Ah my mistake.


I don't think that's a good idea.

This is start performance stats, and like James is doing it right now, it must be calculated at the end of lap 1 and by possitions not by time to the leading car.

Like someone suggested above, maybe keep the same method like James is using now, but not adding "gained places" if someone in front crashes. So if the guy in pole possition crashes, those behind him should not get +1 for that, but only if they get ahead of someone who is still racing.


Random suggestion James - why not have the stat of "average position at the end of lap 1?" Then you could discount things such as punctures on Lap 1 or crashes like Grosjean.

This is what actually matters isn't it? It takes both qualifying as well as the start into account in equal proportions.


RodgerT - my comment was about how to weight start performance against start position. A guy who takes 100% pole positions will have a very bad start record, or a very average one (+/- 0) at best.


This stat isn't about where in line you finish the first lap, but rather where you finish your first lap relative to where you started from on the grid. People are being thrown off by the fact that places lost due to first lap retirements aren't being counted, while places gained for the same reason are. While that doesn't seem quite fair to those who don't have first lap retirements, I can see the logic behind it.

Look at it this way. If drivers starting from grid slots 5 & 6 clash in the first corner they would lose 19 & 18 positions respectively, while those starting 7 thru 24 would gain only 2 positions, assuming there were no other changes within that group. Now for those who make it through the first lap they may have started 12th, and come past start/finish for the first time 10th due to retirements, but they did complete the lap. While those who retired didn't complete the lap so they didn't really lose positions, they were out of the race.


Thanks again for these ever informative strategy articles James, nicely bookends each race.

I think this has gotta be Schumacher's best chance of the season to get on the podium - off the back of Monaco pole, track suits Mercedes and he could have won last years epic. If he can manage a mistake/failure free weekend (it must be possible) then he must be in the shake up. It wouldn't finally vindicate the comeback alone, as the pole doesn't, but would be great to see.

Favourite has to be Hamilton if Mclaren get their act together this race - a little unlucky not to win thus far and brilliant round Montreal.

Hope the ease of overtaking sees some more creative strategies - Monaco was disappointing in that regard, still reckon someone could have won it on a two stop, but they all thought themselves into one. Actually forget that - Hope it pours with rain :)!


nice summary. I can hardly wait, though I won't make it to Montreal this year...



The pitlane is quite short, and has a large stop light at the end of it. It comes up pretty quickly so drivers pay attention! LOL.

I might add that Montreal isn't really coastal, but it is in the middle of a very large river. The inland position results in the temperature extremes (Arctic air meets Gulf Coast air) and can lead to quickly changeable conditions. The fact it's in a river valley can also result in a stiff breeze which can affect gearing and speeds down the straights, and breaking/balance into corners.

Mercedes' DDRS system should prove pretty worthy in qualy here. The DRS advantage in the race has been minimized by resorting to one, shorter zone this year. MS fans will be pleased about that after last year...


James, DRS gives a lot more than 10kph.


It depends on the DRS design of each individual car, and the car's aero package itself, especially around the airbox area. Setup is also important. For example somewhere high downforce like a Silverstone or Suzuka will see a greater speed boost than somewhere like Monza.


Depends on car, DRS system & how much wing angle each driver is using.

Using the speed telematry on the onboard channel i've spotted DRS give anything from an 8kph upto a 23kph gain.


I think it might not be as exciting as everyone expects. It's just a feeling, but the hype might be too big (and it will be virtually impossible to beat last year's drama).

What I find interesting is how will RedBull cope with the forced changes. They are downplaying the holes influence, but since their introduction they won 2 races. And most importantly I want to see JB rising from the ashes 🙂


No team has won any Canadian Grand Prix more than 3 times on the trot with the exception of Ferrari (2000-2003)



No team has won the Canadian Grand Prix more than twice in a row with the exception of Ferrari.

Søren Kühle

Schumacher a 7 time world-champion has won in Montreal 7 times enters race number 7 of the season in car no. 7..

I dont't know. There's something with the numbers here.. I can't quite put my finger on it. Can he be the driver to win this year 😉


That's gonna be one huge jackpot for MSC if he manages to win. 😀

Søren Kühle

Actually I think that it would be his pole number 70 if he took pole. (Not quite sure).. 🙂


In his previous career, he managed 68

Monaco was not his 69th, so no, if he repeats his Monaco performance in qualifying, it will be his 69th.

Ralf Schumacher

Sorry Guys. Webber was credited with the Monaco pole position on the offical f1 stats. Schumi still on 68.

Søren Kühle

But should MS take pole in Montreal, it will be his 7th. pole on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. 🙂

Søren Kühle

ahh yes. One short then. Wasn't shure whether wikipedia's page on MS was updated. Found this, which states it is accurate up till the end of Monaco GP 2012.


Or he will come 7th 🙂


That's where he will end up 7th


Well spotted. I wish Schumi will have a trouble free weekend.


Forecast is for scattered showers over the entire weekend. It could be a very exciting race:


It's telling that James didn't elaborate on the high brake-wear at Montreal. Historically, for a while anyway, brakes used to be a huge issue here; I remember when Jarno Trulli's brake pad exploded at the end of the back straight in 2005. Fortunately he was able to use the run-off and didn't have a serious accident. But in more recent years it has become less of an issue; even when refuelling was introduced in 2010 there weren't too many (if any at all) problems. I suppose it's because brakes are a fairly constant variable in F1 terms so the teams have simply built stronger ones and asked their drivers to be mindful and that's done the trick.


i think that most teams have brought brakes specifically designed for the circuit because of the high wear *at least the big teams do). check out technical updates on


The DRS zones have been reduced this year, but for qualifying we know the DRS can be used anytime which could allow some cars to qualify better than their race pace would.

I cannot understand why they allow DRS to be used at all for qualifying as I thought the intention of DRS was to allow a faster car to pass during the race.

Is it to shuffle the cars at the start to make more overtaking during the race?


I agree with you regarding DRS and qualifying. I've said it before, use the DRS all you like during FP so you can get your gbox ratios just right but ban it for qualifying. If they must allow it during quali, just permit it in the designated DRS zone that will be used on Sunday.

James Clayton

"Is it to shuffle the cars at the start to make more overtaking during the race?"

If it is then that's a very flawed logic. The car with the most downforce is going to be able to make best use of the DRS; so you're going to find that the car that is already generally quickest over a lap, gets more advantage of DRS in quali. Therefore it's MORE likely that cars will line up in 'speed order'.

Of course, there haven't been any two-by-two grids over the last two years, which I guess means drivers still have some input! 🙂


It's so that the teams set the cars up to utilise the DRS added top speed. Otherwise teams will just set up for best non-DRS laptime, and their race and qualifying pace will both be very similar.


It has something to do with the length of the final gear and parc ferme rules I think.


Im tipping williams & sauber to really suprise this weekend.There speed in spain & monaco puts them in great shape for this layout.


Hi James,

A quick technical query if you get the chance to ask an engineer before the race:

In Monaco we saw several drivers struggle with soft tyre warm up. Since Montreal also doesn't have long high load corners, would the large braking loads and the heat from the brakes mean that the slow warm up is unlikely to be repeated this weekend.

I read an interesting comment that said that the first lap safety car in Monaco was really beneficial in allowing the drivers to reduce rear tyre temperature after the high loads from the start.

Just on your comment on the drivers being unable to sense wheelspin as easily, it could be an extension of the comment (from Alan Permane (I think) in Autocourse) that the rear tyres didn't like cornering and acceleration loads at the same time. It could be that it is difficult for the drivers to feel whether the rear tyres are sliding or spinning.




i don't even get why they need to use the DRS here.

when they 1st proposed it then said there would be circuits where it wouldn't be used because overtaking was already possible there.

montreal is one such circuit, we used to see overtaking here so all DRS does is make it stupidly easy as we saw last year.

also why do they keep putting DRS on the main overtaking spot?

if they insist of sticking with DRS they should place the DRS zone in a place where overtaking wasn't quite possible but where DRS would make it more possible (but not too easy).

i think the biggest reasons most DRS passes are as stupidly easy as they are is because they keep putting the DRS zone in places where we already saw a lot of passing.

in these cases all DRS does is make passing far too easy & boring to watch for the fans who want to see some proper racing rather than the easy push of a button drive-by's.

honestly if I see too many easy DRS drive-by's im simply going to stop watching as I don't find that exciting at all, I find that quite boring to be honest, Just as bad as no passing at all.


Wouldn't be surprised if both Silver Arrows are on the front row on Quali. I don't think the Red Bull will be much effected by change in floor, especially Montreal. I think Lewis will be fighting Nico all the way with Kimi fighting Michael and Sebastian in the closing stages as track improves and car lightens. Hope I'm wrong as I would love for Kimi and Grosjean to finally get it together and Lewis there too.. I think these guys deserve it with the frustrations they've had this far!..


One DRS only?

I think two is fine, but not operated the way they did last year.

Just make two detection zones. One from the final hairpin of the lap, the other just before the pit entry.

That'd ultimately end up being a fight leading into corner 1 of the next lap, rather than a straight overtaking and that's it.

Like I've said many many times before, F1 should be about >>>fighting<<<, not simply "overtaking". Overtaking is just a possible consequence of a good fight between two or more drivers. I think a fight is more thrilling than witnessing a simple PlayStation style overtaking move.


No one in their right mind would suggest Jenson Button would win again.


We'd better wait and see. No one "in their right minds" expected to see Webber winning again, after a poor 2011 compared to Vettel.


But Webber won in 2011!!

Grayzee (Australia)

Hmm. James, a question for you and your readers. It is often said that a track is "dirty' or "dusty', especially if it not used very often, like Montreal.

So..... why don't the organisers just clean it before the weekend. I mean, get a road sweeper and and water truck and wash the track surface.

It seems rather obvious to me. Am I missing something?


They do usually sweep the track in most places. But it still takes time to clean up once the cars are on track. Canada is a low grip surface too


Whats the point of a preview? Its only a lottery no longer a race.


Just a thought, i'm glad these "lottery" comments are no longer being turned into a discussion.


Interesting strategy calculator again, James.

If it's correct, the option is clearly the superior race tyre to the prime - and the used option is still faster over a stint than the new prime.

I note your baseline appears to use a new set of options. Is it going to be possible to get through Q1 on the prime ?


Hi James,

Just read another story today regarding Kimi and his steering issues.

Is a perfect steering setup that difficult to find or could it be something else?


Great track. Looking forward to it.

Too bad it is the same time as EURO 2012 Croatia vs Ireland.


I expect you to stay fully focused on the race, and not on football, Double-O 7.


We won 3:1

Bring on Italy 🙂

Thank you Mrs M 🙂


It's made that way on purpose, as Group C matches are played at 18:00 and 20:45 and the other match is Spain-Italy...


'The key to making the super soft last is to limit wheel spin with the rear tyres'..... could you spin the front tyres?


You can't spin the front wheels like the rear because they don't transmit any power.

But they scrub across the surface when steering is applied.


Looking at the weather forecast, it might be a frustrating weekend for some. Friday and Saturday are likely to see some rain, while Sunday could be clear and warm.

Good luck setting up a car for qualifying and raceday if that proves accurate.

eric weinraub

I'm wondering if we'll see another new winner this race. I'm a Schu fan and believe he has a real chance as will Kimi and Grosjean. If there is rain... watch out!


Hi James,

I note on your strategy calculator, your baseline appears to assume the use of a new set of options after the first stop.

Do you think it's realistic for the top teams to get through Q1 on the prime (given it's 0.8-1 sec slower than the option), or do you think Q2 on used options is possible ?

In any event, the option seems to be the faster tyre for the race, and two stops seems the way to go - unless there's a very long safety car procession.

Stopping on laps 24 and 48 is around 5 sec faster over the race than your simulator baseline. Given the relative ease of passing it might be the way to go - and staying out longer gives more chance of benefitting from either the weather or the safety car, I think.

Do you know what sort of track temperature the Pirelli calculations are based on ?

Could vary a lot over the weekend.


James -- I have been using your strategy calculator, and realized that it factors in an approximately 19 second drop for each pit stop. Given that the time loss per pit stop is 11.2 seconds, I do believe your strategy calculator needs to be recaliberated for this. For example, if I am 9 seconds ahead of the car on the default stategy prior to my last stop, I need to emerge 2 seconds behind after I make the pit stop, and not 9 seconds behind. Thanks.


I think we'll see a boring Q3 in Montreal as teams try to save s/softs for Sunday.


I reckon if there was points allocated in qualifying there would be a lot more action on track, with teams and drivers pushing harder and also considering tyre strategy as well.

Just for the top three; 3 points for pole, 2 for second and 1 for third.

Qualifying would become more important than just being about grid position.


wouldn't stop the non-pole contenders from sitting it out


Montreal always produces a great race. I think there will be a great opportunity for Schumacher to win here.

And then off to Valencia, the most boring race in the History of F1.


Hi James

What is the teams feeling on the Merc double-DRS system now that the season has settled in. Do they feel it is a significant advantage worthy of them looking into their own system or do they feel it is not as significant as they first thought?


It has its advantages, in specific circumstances, but only for qualifying and it's a tricky thing to implement effectively if you didn't design your chassis around it for the gains you get


As you said James, Mercedes and Lotus should go well here. Nip-and-tuck in qualifying between the two, with Mercedes having the better race pace. McLaren are behind them in both qualifying and race trim.


Hi James,

On the strategy calculator, running 24 laps on the option (whether new or scrubbed) is quite viable. However, in P2, 17-18 laps seems to be about the limit of the tyres, judging by Vettel's run.

It's going to be quite a lot warmer on Sunday. Will the option last less or more time in the warmer conditions ?


James, great site, great insights, great comments. Looking forward to a...great race!?


I question the "very easy overtaking" bit.

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