Strategy more important than pole: F1 set for a wild weekend ride in Montreal
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Jun 2016   |  4:57 pm GMT  |  246 comments

This weekend is the Canadian Grand Prix, one of the most popular and unpredictable races on the F1 calendar.

The key stat about Montreal is that it’s the least important pole position of the season. This means that, more often than not, things do not got according to plan in Montreal. Since 2000 the pole sitter has enjoyed a conversion rate to race victory of just 35%. And add in the fact that this year there are three tyre compounds to choose from and the softest one is not capable of giving you a one-stop strategy and you have what looks to be an entertaining weekend ahead.

Because of the nature of the track, high-speed and lined with walls, there is a 60% chance of a Safety Car and with very fast pit stops here of 18 secs due to a short pit lane, this is one of the races where strategy has the highest importance.

Overtaking is easy because of the long straights and tight bends, so teams have to plan their fastest strategy from lights to flag, using the tyre compounds available, but also to be flexible in case a Safety Car is deployed.

Safety Car Canada

We have seen a lot of Virtual Safety car use this season already and we can expect to see more of that this weekend. There are some situations, such as two car collisions at the first chicane, where a full Safety car is required, however. We also had a high speed accident at the end of the 2014 race with Massa and Perez, which meant that the race finished under a Safety Car, with Daniel Ricciardo winning the race for Red Bull. In 11 of the last 18 Canadian Grands Prix we have seen a Safety Car.

A pit stop under a Safety Car in Montreal costs around 10 seconds of net race time, compared to around 18 seconds at racing speeds, so if the timing is right and you are in your pit window, it’s very tempting and we will probably see quite a few switches of strategy if it’s a race of incident.

This could be a race where we see a wide variety of different strategies, like China were 13 finishers used all three Pirelli tyre compounds.

Monaco Qualifying

The Ultra soft will be the qualifying tyre, but there’s probably an argument for trying to do what Ricciardo did in Monaco and try to get through Q2 on a set of super softs to start the race on. The performance of the ultra and supersoft in race conditions was not that significant in Monaco, while the soft performed very well in comparison.

Canada is quite a low degradation track, but it still stresses a tyre more than Monaco. We saw the Ultra softs do around 150km in the race in Monaco, which equates to 37 laps of Montreal, but I think the limit will be much lower than that due to the nature of the track.

The race is 70 laps and last year the supersoft maxed out at 33 laps and the Soft at 53 laps.

So for some runners with good tyre life, one stop might be possible in various guises. But equally, an aggressive strategy with two stops and softer compounds could also be competitive. Judging from the tyres that have been selected, with Renault and Haas F1 both deciding not to take any supersofts, the race is likely to be about the Ultra Softs and Softs for many runners.

But Montreal is a strange track and the temperature fluctuations in any given day are as big as any venue on the calendar. This can often catch people out. There is some rain forecast for Sunday, with Friday and Saturday likely to escape the rain, but the prevailing temperatures are low. This could lead some teams to have issues with tyre warm up, especially in qualifying and at the start of a race stint after a pit stop.

Last year the tyres were durable enough for most to do a one-stop. This year is likely to be more like 2014 where there was little to choose between one and two stops in race time although a two stop was clearly preferable if you could run in clear air at the front.

Mercedes Canada GP

Canadian Grand Prix in numbers

Montreal is a race that tends to feature close finishes, according to F1 statistician Virtual Statman. In the last 13 runnings of the Canadian GP, eight of them have been won by a margin of less than three seconds.

Lewis Hamilton made another piece of history in Monaco as he moves closer to some all time great records. His win meant that he has now won at least one race in each of the last 10 consecutive seasons. Only Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher have achieved that. He has also now led 87 different Grands Prix, more than Ayrton Senna and second only to Michael Schumacher who led 142 races. Hamilton is closing in on Senna’s tally of 65 pole positions, he is now on 52.

Hamilton is the form man at Montreal with four wins there. He is also chasing a front row start there for the fifth season in a row. Red Bull and Mercedes are now tied on 58 pole positions each, so the battle on Saturday should be intense.

Daniel Ricciardo

Although Montreal is a power circuit, there is a big emphasis on mechanical grip out of low speed corners, which is where the Red Bull excels. With the new Renault power unit having made a successful debut in Monaco, it should give the team a boost of around 0.4s a lap compared to the old unit. This won’t be enough to put the engine on a par with the Mercedes, but the combination of factors should put Red Bull into a position to challenge Mercedes there.

Ferrari has fallen back a little of late, with tyre management issues and a deficit on mechanical grip being a couple of areas of concern. However traditionally they bring a big update to Canada, so we will see how they perform this weekend. The last update in Russia, did not move them closer to Mercedes, which was demoralising. They cannot afford to have another update that is matched by Mercedes and which keeps them at arms length.

Strategy Insights
Strategy Briefings
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Montréal, quelle belle ville!
And great for Formula One racing.
The weather has been weird this year, with a stalled, cold, dry spring suddenly ‘hotted-up’ to steaming 30 degree weather within about two days, now we have dropped down to spring-like temperatures (what climate change!?)
At the time of my writing this comment, it is 8 degrees Celsius at 09h20 EDT (5 hours behind the UK).
Tires will be a factor with the crazy temperatures!
While Friday and Saturday should get into the low 20s (still cool), Sunday currently has a forecast high of only 16 degrees!
Any team having difficulty getting heat into the ultrasofts, are going to want to use the tires that they can best get heat into, what ever compound that may be!
If you are going, where a warm jacket, as the wind may shift around to be coming off the water.

So it’s hard to tell, but this is a power track, and Mercedes are the favourites.
That being said…
… there is internal strife at both Mercedes (no, it definitely hasn’t gone away) and Red Bull (with the new photogenic superstar-kind taking the stage).
Aggression like this may lead to a roller derby; I expect attrition, and lots of safety cars, a key strategic consideration.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the (even more than usual) uncertainty.


One of my favourite GP’s of the season, love the high speed tracks. Canada always delivers a twist of some nature too. Bring it!!!


James, has just posted a video of a lap of Montreal in 1992 from Michael Schumacher.

What happened to those beautiful curves towards the end of the lap where he passes the car in front? I never knew these previously existed. Shame they seemed to have got rid of what looked like a fantastic little sequence of corners.


Buoyed by his win at Monaco and changeable/ wet conditions – Lewis will romp away with another Canada victory. If its dry he will win even more comfortably. Ferrari & RBR will exchange paint and so too Williams and Force India. Best brakes & best brakers win in Montreal. We’ve seen big names fail with their brakes here.. So fingers crossed they last and we get a good indication of RBR / Ferraris PU upgrades.. Really keen to see if Ferrari have impoved their traction with the rear suspension upgrade- this may decide whether they can compete at the remaining races!


I am praying the ultrasofts work a treat at Montreal and provide some real racing.


The fact that Ultra softs can last 150km is remarkable. I would have expected something more along the lines of 25km.

Shouldn’t by definition an U.s. tire be for pure speed and have a big fall off? Something for immediate gain? You shouldn’t be able to manage an U.s. for 150km in my opinion.


Yes but that’s Monaco

It will be less at Montreal and Austria


But ‘qualifying tyres’ (which is what these were being described as)’ never lasted 150km in the past, even Monaco.


James, I had the mother of all questions I have been meaning to ask, maybe you would be able to answer after checking the rule book!
When Kvyat and Max exchanged teams, while they took their own points along to the other car, the PU allocations didnt carry over with the drivers but stayed CAR specific.

Thus, Max inherited Kvyat’s PU parts change schedule and vice versa.

So its car wise I get it.. but now, WHAT IF AT THE END OF THE YEAR within the same team itself we find one driver who can prospectively win the WDC but is faced with a grid penalty for say change of gearbox or a Power unit element change, taking it beyond the allowed quota for the year; If they SWITCH the two drivers within the garage between say Car+PU Alpha and Car+PU Beta.. the Title Contender could get away with not having to take the grid penalty while his team mate takes the penalty driving the car afflicted by the quota limit? Shouldn’t this be possible?

If anyone in the world can find out, its probably you! And if this is indeed possible by the rules now, will they block it if you ask them? 🙂

They did allow Max and Kvyat to inherit each others Quotas! So…


There is nothing in the rules that specifically would prevent that, that I can recall. You can be sure there would be, if a team tried it.

But say Ricciardo is close in the title race, but is near a penalty. You could have him and Kvyat swap seats for a race, one where the Toro Rosso might be close in performance to the RBR car, and then have Kvyat take the penalty in the Red Bull, then switch back for the next race. The only limit is that any one team can run a maximum of 4 drivers in a season.


No I cannot see how that would be allowed


But The Engine Quotas are CAR specific, and drivers can change cars like max and Kvyat did.

I guess the reason for change of car must be a well worded clause 🙂 But is it really 😀 Redbull lawyers are the smartest.. maybe we will see them eventually displaying some fantastic wit if push comes to shove, with something even more complicated. If they deflect their wings, god knows what else they can deflect. So much fun!


As with every GP, i am excited about Sunday’s race. We have been spoiled this year so far with the exeption of the Russian GP and hope the Canadian GP follows the vein. I am hoping for a Ferrari win, preferably a Vettel one but will take a Kimi victory with pleasure. The wall of Champions has not been much of a factor the past few years/races, hope it plays a role again this year. If as forecast, the rain is present on Sunday, it should be well worthwhile staying awake for me as the race start is at 2 am where l live. Hoping for a fine race tegardless of the winner. Marc


Wild Ride? New Ferrari Turbo that aids powering it till end of the long straight? Perez to Ferrari?


Hope you are right as far as Ferrari getting a boost. Would love to see a fourth winner for the season and 6 or 7 different winners by the season end. I am very poor at picking winners in all sports but i have this feeling that Vettel will be on the top step of the podium this SfeelingOne can always hope right? Marc


Either the turbo will catch fire like Australia, or Ferrari get back the half second or so people say they toned down their PU by after Australia. We already saw a fight for the win between the Oldest and Youngest driver with Max and Kimi; Also the most aggressive overtakers Ham and Ricci went at it in Monaco; What remains to be seen is the German pair of Nico and Vettel slugging it out for a win and the honor of being the top German driver in the next race!


One of my favourite races of the year. Often produces a great event, last year being a bit of an exception.

Hoping that both Mercs get a fair run at it. Lewis will slaughter Nico if the weather is sketchy on Sunday.

Looking forward to the pressure cooker at RB giving us some entertainment. Max with the upgraded engine will be interesting. I think they’ve played it right there. Let the number 2 use it first to get Max wound up then watch him go!


Joking, before the DR fanatics have a meltdown! Speaking of whom, let’s hope he doesn’t get “screwed” by his team again or his bottom lip is going to be like a DCS (Drag Creation System).

Looking forward to some sweary outbursts from Seb. If they’re behind RB again there’s the chance for much hilarity!

Hope DK can get a solid race under his belt, my god he needs it.

And finally I hope that Sergio can get another good result. He can run well here.

Whatever happens, a good race would be the best result. Hope you all enjoy it.


I hope the RBR is close to the Merc, Max can get p2 then and heap misery on Rosberg.

Seeing Max outrace Ricci will be fun, eventually we will see a decline in deluded conspiracy theories from his countrymen as he Webberises.


James, what about the undercut? It is a quick laptime compared to most other venues. So the undercut will be more difficult? What do you estimate is the maximum gap for a possible undercut move?


We’ll have to see once they run the tyres but warm up on out lap could be an issue for undercut.

Overtaking is easy in Montreal so undercut is not the only way by


For the record…

“At Monte Carlo it gave us exactly what was promised, which was about 0.2s,” he said. “That certainly helped to achieve pole position, so hats off to everyone in Viry, they are doing a great job at the moment.

“The upgraded power unit has delivered exactly what Renault said it would and that’s certainly a positive as we head towards more power-related circuits. We’re relishing the prospect of the next few races.”

Christian Horner.


Nice to hear RB mentioning their engine by the name of the manufacturer rather than the watch badge. Hope they can sort out their differences and give Max a car he deserves. It’s looking like it’s going in the right direction.


This was a quote cut and pasted from a FOX news site. I have since seen the same interview elsewhere where he specifically refers to the PU as a TAG-Heuer PU…


Will be more on power circuits obviously


4-5 tenths by reports.
Just wanted to catalogue his praise for Renault 🙂


Looking forward to seeing the pecking order at this round. I suppose Merc will still be at the front. However after they were beaten on true pace in Monaco it will be very interesting to see if they can be challenged by RB at this circuit with it’s differing requirements.
Psychologically, an important race for Rosberg. He needs to compete or Hamilton will steamroll him. Personally I can’t see it happening.
DR says he has put Monaco behind him, we’ll see if that’s true this weekend. Hopefully the garage can stay out of the way and we get a straight fight between him and Max. Though RB being RB there might always be question marks in that regard.
Gypsy Lady Crystal Ball prediction… Ferrari to be VERY strong.


+1 for Gypsy Lady Crystal Ball. I hope it is right.


Really looking forward to not only the Gp but also how Ric comes out after his Monaco disappointment.
Hopefully the engine upgrade Redbull had in Monaco wasn’t hid by the special nature of the track and it really is able to bring them closer to the Mercedes on a low downforce, high speed track that is Montreal.
Would love to see all three, Mercedes, RB and Ferrari within a few tenths of each other so we have the tussles at the front we all yearn to see.
Enough of the off track talk and drama, let’s see it on the track.
May the best driver win ( not so much the best car).


Still with the double backhand remarks. In that case…
Sarsippious ye ol’mucker (east end Cockney speak)
Well that’s Lewis and Mercedes sorted.
Best Driver Best Car being World Champion.
Then the Williams
Then the Force India
Then the Ferrari
Then Toro Rosso
Then the Mclarens
Then maybe Red Bull
Followed by
Sauber Manor.
Mosultoff ????


It’s a conspiracy…..
Seriously though, I’m flattered you seek out and reply to my comments for no apparent reason.
Your desire to make everything about Lewis is concerning.
These derogatory, back handed and sarcastic messages you believe in aren’t real.
My life and every comment I post here does not revolve around Hamilton. It’s actually a pretty good feeling, you should try it ????


Well said…again and again and again.


Kenneth, the guy says that not every comment should be about Lewis, and you agree with him?!!! I am going to stick my neck out and say that of all the regular commenters on this site, the one who has the highest percentage of Hamilton based posts is you.


It’s a pity you don’t hold yourself to the lofty standards you expect of others.
And yes, I will keep sniffing the daisies as no doubt it’s better than what your nose is buried in…


My nose is never buried in anything Sarsippious.
I’m as free willed as the next man.
Though I do like the smell of napalm and gasoline in the morning also also a bottle of bourbon wrapped around the latest edition of Hustler ???? and a pair of of high powered specs ???? as I think I’m going blind???? from the….drinking????


Fair enough lol..


Relying on team orders to pass his teammate and a major Redbull error also helped facilitate that win.
Making those wets last was sound driving, although he really had no other option to when Ric pitted first, otherwise he would’ve given up track position and as he showed early on when he was stuck behind driving Miss Daisy ( that’s Rosberg by the way), overtaking was something even Lewis the great struggled with.
When Toto was asked after the race about the call on strategy, he mentioned how it was a decision from both the pitwall and Lewis to stay out, yet Lewis was quick to say it was all on him.
Funny that isn’t it. When he wins it’s all because of himself yet when something goes amiss it’s the team’s fault.
He’s becoming more like Alain Prost everyday ( he’s a 4* World Champion, around the time you were born it would appear) .
If you truly believe that’s one of the greatest wins you’ve seen then you haven’t watched enough F1..


Sarsippious, Lewis forced Red Bull to bring Ricciardo in for interns first by being so much quicker than him on the full wets. If RB hadn’t reacted to Hamilton’s pace he would have undercut Ricciardo and gained track position anyway.


That’s not accurate. The gap stabilised after an initial closing by Lewis.

In fact I just check James Allen’s strategy post and he wrote this:

“It was now just about Ricciardo’s pace relative to Hamilton on similar wet tyres and protecting a lead. Hamilton had closed initially when he cleared Rosberg, but Ricciardo was able to then hold him at 12 seconds.”


I wasn’t born when Prost was winning his championships .
I remember them well as I watched them. As an 10 year old at the time. Yes I’ve been to GPs throughout my life. Only missed 4 home grand prix since the age of 10. I have seen to name a few ….Andretti Hunt Lauda Watson Senna Prost Mansell Hill Frentzen Schumacher Mika KImi Hamilton Button Vettel Hamilton as Champions.
So I have seen some real changes in
Car development demise of teams and deaths in the sport.
Now then where did I put that Mag and Bourbon ????


I seriously doubt Williams will be anywhere near the front. More likely they will be eating dust of RB and Ferrari like they have all season. They should start work on next year’s car already if they have any sense.


@ nick H …yes, williams have been decidedly underwhelming all season so far. they appear to be somewhere between top and bottom mid field. smedley is sounding more and more like sam. their drivers are both uninspiring as well. they seem to lack any flair and excitement. ho hum, hum,hum.


Underwhelming is an understatement Kenneth.
Williams have either already given up on this year’s car and are putting all their eggs in the 2017 car.
Or they need a new design team.
They maybe fast in the speed traps around Canada but in terms of race readiness the car lacks Zip on the Zag and Zag and the Zip. The car always loos as if it wants to go a different way unless it’s man handled in the braking zones.


Underwhelming is an understatement Kenneth.
Williams have either already given up on this year’s car and are putting all their eggs in the 2017 car.
Or the need a new design team.
They maybe fast in the speed traps around Canada but in terms of race readiness the car lacks Zip on the Zag and Zag.


Looking forward to the next 2 months of racing!
Point of interest:
How good is the Renault engine?
With Max getting the new engine this weekend, looking forward to Daniel vs. Max. Can Max keep up with Daniel, especially in Quali
Will Ferrri’s updated turbo & suspension make a difference or are they going to be off the podium again?
Most importantly, can Nico get over Monaco disappointments? Or this is when Lewis starts his dominance??
Hoping for 3 teams fighting for the pole and the win!

Ricki Sanguinetti

Very interesting race ahead.Come rain or shine,it will be Lewis to the fore.


It seems like a long time since anyone has whacked the wall of champions in a race, and I don’t remember Lewis ever hitting it.


This year might be his/Lewis year in that regard. Marc


Are you all forgetting last year’s race?! It was utterly mundane, exacerbated by all the fuel-saving lift and coast rubbish,


I agree i cant wait for this one….what a race never dissapoints!!!!

This one will be closer than previous events and mercs will have to run full power to win think…..order being ham, vet, ric, ves,ros

I am really enjoying this season, before monaco i thought ross will lucky this year and be champion, but after lewis just having a clean race you think hes going to win a forth title……after monaco i thought ros is a good drive but ham in a excellent driver …..and monaco proved the diff between a good deiver and a excellent driver

James i would like to know your thoughts on this and if you agree or dissagree

Finally i really want to see the true pace off the renault engine….is it really that good or did rebull flatter with there chassis in monaco???


No Kimi in that list.


Great track, one of the best of the season. I don’t believe Ferrari are as bad as people are making out, it’s just a case of making the tyres work properly, especially in qualifying. Their car seems to have a small sweet spot in terms of optimising the tyres. I don’t think the high pressures help! Ferrari v RB should be good this weekend. Merc probably out of reach on this track but we shall see.


Yeah I don’t think Ferrari is just going to slip into 3rd and that’s that. They have a new turbo, rumoured 0.4s/lap gain. Then a new rear suspension, to help with qualifying.

Looks like rain on Sunday, possibly Saturday too.


Well it’s almost a guarantee that we’ll get a good race if the weather turns up as forecast. Rosberg’s probably not so over the moon.


Lewis owns this track, hopefully he can have a clean straightforward lights to flag win. No qualifying car failures, no dodgy start, no racing incidents and no botched stops.


Boring hope


No excitement?


Sir Tease, I think Lewis is due an excitement free weekend. Hopefully it will be a real humdinger, behind him.


I think we’ll get a humdinger. I’d like to see Lewis involved.


Sir Tease, usually I would agree, I love to see Lewis in close combat, but my nerves can’t handle any more shocks for a while. I’m hoping for pole, good start, steadily pulling away from whoever is in P2, and stroke it home. Hopefully Lewis’ race is so boring the director chooses to ignore him and concentrate on all the action down the field.


Have your wish TimW. I won’t be watching this one, just following a live feed. So it matters not to me how the racing looks… Very interested in the results however.


I’ll second that and maybe I’ll log in under a different name and third it as well 😎


Well said TimW, I will third that 🙂


Thanks very much 63C, always nice to meet new people.


C63, I can’t imagine anyone would have multiple identities on this site…..


Well,I should stress that it is only a rumour at this stage (much like the hat indoors and elbows on the table) 🙂


What?? Who? Where?
Is Sebee also Aveli? I’ve been wondering…


Sir Tease, Sebee accused Aveli and me of being one and the same once!


Classic technique to deflect suspicion…


I’m offended. I’ll comment 40 times under my name if necessary and passes mod. Why would I hide or need another name?


I think it’s a yin an yang thing…


Although Lewis is favorite you can’t help but think something unusual might occur. I read on another site that Ferrari has spent 3 tokens on a upgraded turbo for vettell which they’re hoping for a improvement that was promised on the last upgrade…….


It’ll be interesting to see if Lewis can make a good start. He doesn’t seem to have been able to recently. Monaco was different as it started under safety car, and luckily for him he was able to turn that into a win.
Looking forward to seeing what max can do with the improved engine too.


What are the odds on Max Verstappen stamping his mark on the Wall of Champions?


First let him become a champion. We have a few champions this year, who haven’t touched the wall yet.


I’ll give you 2:1 Max smacks it. Others will be Rosberg, Botas and Palmer. Then it can be simply referred to as ‘The Wall’.

Looking forward to quali and the tussle between Ferrari and Red Bull for higher points places. I think Ham has this one in the bag. Praying for rain and an Alonso podium for some variety. Jenson, Top Gear is calling.


I’m going to stick my neck out & say 0%!!


I love this race track. And what a city too. It’s the furthest I’ve ventured from the UK solely for an F1 race, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Top Tags
SEARCH Strategy