Soft compounds for the completely resurfaced Montreal track

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Drivers and teams will need to work out how to get the best out of Pirelli's softest compounds on the resurfaced Gilles Villeneuve track as the Milan-based tyre manufacturer has elected to bring the three compounds of the soft end of its five-compound range. F1Technical's senior writer delivers his tyre preview.

Formula 1 returns to North America after two European rounds in Imola and Monaco. The Canadian Grand Prix therefore means a change of continent but it’s a case of status quo when it comes to tyre compound choice for the ninth round of the season, because the race in Montreal will be the third in a row to feature the three softest compounds in the 2024 range, namely the C3 as Hard, C4 as Medium and C5 as Soft.

Engineers will be able to build their setup choices on the data they gathered in the last two years as it will be the third time that Pirelli has nominated the three softest compounds for the semi-permanent circuit of Montreal that was built on the man-made island of Notre-Dame, originally created for Expo ’67.

As far as the track characteristics are concerned, the 4.361km track has one of the lowest average speeds of the season. The layout features six left-hand corners and eight to the right. Stability under braking and traction coming out of the chicanes and the slowest corners, which include the hairpin leading onto a very long straight, are the keys to being competitive, as is a car that can change direction quickly.

Unlike the previous stop on the calendar in Monaco, overtaking is possible here, especially at the end of the straight leading to the final chicane, the exit to which features the “Wall of Champions,” thus named after three world champions, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve, all ended their races there in 1999, crashing into the wall on the outside of the turn.

The entire track has been resurfaced for this year and the kerbs have been replaced. On paper, the track’s existing characteristics of low abrasiveness and therefore reduced grip should remain the same, but the real indications will have to wait until the Pirelli engineers carry out their first measurement tests on Wednesday.

For most of the year, the track is only used by people on foot or cyclists and so lap times generally drop significantly as the cars rubber-in the surface. Graining might also occur, especially on Friday and particularly with the softer compounds. The tyres are subjected to very low lateral forces, although the longitudinal ones are greater, but overall, Montreal is one of the easiest tracks of the season on tyres.

As for the strategy, the Canadian Grand Prix can throw up some surprises. Pirelli will bring the three softest compounds, but one-stop could still be a viable option as shown last year. However, the short pit lane often motivates drivers to pit twice and try to benefit from the fresh tyres.

In last year’s race, all three dry compounds came into play with a mix of strategies with some drivers, including the three who finished on the podium, going for a two-stop while others pitted just the once, trying to lengthen the opening stint as much as possible. One has to take into consideration that the Safety Car is a frequent visitor and that a longer first stint therefore offers the best chance of minimising time lost changing tyres.

The weather, always very changeable in June, generally plays its part in the Quebec event. A cold, rainy, windy day, can be followed by sunshine and warmth, but temperatures can even vary considerably in the space of one day. The current prediction is that rain might make an appearance across the race weekend, but it is not sure how it will impact the various sessions.