|Formula Legend Strategy Report – Canadian Grand Prix 2015|
|Round 7 – 70 Laps – 4.361km per lap – 305.270km race distance – very low tyre wear|
|Canadian F1 Strategy Report Podcast click here|
|Round seven of the 2015 Formula 1 season took place at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. It was a rather tame race by Canadian Grand Prix standards, with Lewis Hamilton taking a controlled victory for Mercedes.It was the Brit’s fourth win of the year, with Nico Rosberg finishing 2.2 seconds further back in second place. The German kept Hamilton in his sights throughout the race but just didn’t have the pace to challenge him. Valtteri Bottas was a fine third for Williams, scoring the team’s first podium of 2015.In terms of strategy, it was an interesting grand prix. We saw a mix of one and two-stop races and witnessed some great racing as quicker cars moved through the field after starting from the back of the grid.Here are the main strategy points from F1’s trip to Canada:
One stop rules the day
Lower tyre degradation at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve meant the majority of the race finishers stopped just once. This was the preferred strategy for F1’s tyre supplier Pirelli prior to the Canadian Grand Prix, despite a two-stopper working out slightly faster.
Starting on the super-soft and switching to the soft around laps 24 to 28 was the most common option, although Hamilton and Rosberg stayed out until the 29th and 30th laps before pitting, with the option tyre lasting longer than expected.
During the first pit stop phase, Rosberg actually gained time on his team-mate by staying out one lap later on the super-soft tyre. This again shows the durability of the compound, that he was able to push and gain more time – even with a slight off at the hairpin. Sadly for Rosberg his late fightback faded and he had to settle for second.
Bottas also pulled off a similar strategy to the top two, stopping just once on lap 28 and moving ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Despite the Ferrari driver having better race pace, the Williams racer was able to maintain the gap to Raikkonen – another impressive drive by the Finn.
The spinning Finn
The 2007 world champion lost a considerable amount of time after his lap 26 pit stop, due to a spin at the hairpin. He was perplexed as to what happened after the race and suffered a similar problem in Canada last year. The mistake cost him several second and Bottas was able to move ahead of him when he pitted.
Raikkonen spun up his wheels and kicked up plenty of smoke as he recovered from the spin, which surely ruined his tyres. Did this prompt Ferrari to switch from one to two stops? It is likely, helped by the fact that at the time of his second trip to the pit lane, he was well clear of the next car and was able to re-join the track without losing track position.
On fresh super-soft tyres, he closed on Bottas but like Rosberg at the front of the field, his challenge slipped away and he eventually finished five seconds behind the Williams. Raikkonen was the highest placed two-stopper in the Canadian GP.
Vettel moves up the field
Sebastian Vettel put in a strong recovery drive from 18th on the grid, after a MGU-H problem in qualifying and a grid drop for overtaking during red flags in FP3. It was a tough place to be starting from, but he quickly made progress in the early stages and was helped by a more aggressive two-stop strategy.
Vettel was the first driver to make a scheduled stop on lap seven, switching to the soft tyre. He completed 28 laps on that set before pitting for a used set of the prime compound, to complete the race. He showed good pace on both tyre and would have definitely been in with a chance of a podium if he hadn’t started so far down the field.
He ended up less than 10 seconds behind Bottas and three seconds behind his team-mate Raikkonen, despite lining up 15 positions behind him on the grid. Quite an impressive drive through the field.
Massa ekes out his tyres
Felipe Massa also started out of position in 15th and soon moved up the order, helped by running the Mercedes power unit. Williams opted to start the Brazilian driver on the soft tyre and despite being on the less grippy compound, he was able to make good progress in the early laps.
However, he pitted for the one and only time on lap 37, which looked to be a little too early for someone attempting a one-stop race. However, the durability and lower degradation of the super-soft meant Massa was able to lap quickly throughout his impressive 35-lap option tyre stint.
It was the longest stint on the super-soft tyre, with Pastor Maldonado completing the most consecutive laps on one set of the soft compound – 53 in total for the Lotus driver, en route to his first points of the year.
Few pit stops
Typically Canada can throw up a race with quite a few stops, which adds to the excitement of the on-track action. However, this year it was different, with only 24 trips to the pit lane in total (not including retirements).
With limited track time in practice due to rain in FP2 and red flags in FP3, teams entered qualifying and the race more unprepared than usual, which would have made choosing a strategy even tougher.
Pirelli Strategy Infographics