Bold tyre selection for Montreal as Mario Isola reflects on processional Monaco race

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Formula One's sole tyre Pirelli has announced a bold tyre selection for the forthcoming Canadian Grand Prix with drivers set to receive the three softest compounds in Montreal.

The Milan-based tyre manufacturer is set to bring the three softest compounds of its tyre range to this weekend's Montreal round. It means that the C3 will serve as P Zero White hard, C4 as P Zero Yellow medium and C5 as P Zero Red soft at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit.

This will be the third consecutive race that Pirelli has nominated the three compounds of the softer end of its range as drivers had the same trio of compounds available in Imola and Monaco in the previous two races. While the choice for the Principality was not surprising given the extremely low degradation and wear, Imola represented an aggressive choice.

However, tyres displayed a very consistent behaviour in Imola, and most of the top drivers opted for a single-stop strategy which was also prompted by the fact that a pit stop on the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari takes around 28 seconds which usually forces drivers to minimize the number of their stops.

As for Montreal, it will not be the first time that Pirelli brings the softest compounds, but it might still impact the race weekend. With the Gilles Villeneuve track featuring a short pit lane, the bold choice might lead to a variety of strategy options.

The semi-street track doest not feature any high-speed corners, which means that the key factors are traction coming out of slow turns, stability under braking, and agility when changing direction.

Another important element to consider is the weather. Conditions can change quickly, not just from wet to dry, but also with marked fluctuations in temperature. The current forecast is for changeable weather for this weekend.

Possible changes in Monaco

Last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix turned out to be a processional race with the top ten drivers finishing as they started the 78-lap race. This result was also dictated by the early stoppage that was triggered by the crash between Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Perez.

The early stoppage prompted drivers to change to a different compound to what they used at the start of the race in order to complete the remaining 77 laps of the 78-lap Monaco Grand Prix.

While several drivers who started the race on the hard tyres were forced to switch to the mediums, they were still able to complete the rest of the race which was only a lap less than the original race distance on the same set of yellow-banded tyres.

Although tyre degradation and wear are extremely low on the Monaco street circuit given its layout and lack of high-speed sections, the field was forced to perform an uncomfortable tyre management which saw drivers crawl around by some eight second slower than what they managed in qualifying.

Reflecting on the processional race, Pirelli's Motorsport Director Mario Isola said that it is very difficult to change the situation as the layout of the Monaco track allows drivers to back off by more than three seconds without losing positions.

“In 2018 when they were running softer tyres, if I remember well, they were running eight seconds slower than the potential of the tyres – which was F2 pace.”

“The problem in Monaco is that you cannot overtake, so you can slow down by 2/3/4 seconds per lap and nobody can get past you,. What is important, in my opinion, is that we have to consider not just the tyres, but why a team decides to stop or not.

“It is a combination of tyre degradation, how easy it is to overtake and the time you spend in a pit stop. Imola is a good example, because if you take 28 seconds for an additional pit stop, you try to not take it.”

“I remember that many years ago, when there was this proposal [to force two stops], we had the discussion and the teams asked their strategy engineers to make a simulation,” he explained.

“The result was that everyone came back with more or less the same strategy. So by adding constraints, we are not pushing them to have different strategies or different approaches to the race, but just to converge to the same one. And this is not what we want.

“What we want is to have a mix of one stop and two stops, with different compounds used. To fix the issue we need to work together to sit down, consider all the proposals, make a simulation, and understand which is the best approach," Isola is quoted as saying by Autosport.