To Hypersoft or not to Hypersoft? That is the big question facing Mercedes who spent the first day of free practice, for the Canadian Grand Prix, without running Pirelli’s stickiest pink band tyres which they will sample for the first time in FP3 ahead of qualifying.
Hamilton’s best effort during the afternoon session was actually set on the Super Softs while teammate Valtteri Bottas set his best lap time on Ultrasofts.
Hamilton explained, “Ultimately we don’t have as many hypersofts as everyone else. They have to select it quite far ahead from our test when the tyres didn’t last, I think that’s the information we got then and we planned for a different strategy.”
“Everyone else I think has got eight sets and we’ve got four or five. But tomorrow hopefully we’ll get a good feel on it and it’s not too dissimilar from what we’ve been driving today.”
Tyres for the Canadian Grand Prix would have been selected by the teams month ago.
The reigning F1 World Champion added, “Hindsight is a great thing and so naturally it would have been great to try the hyper today, but others have and I’ve seen some that degraded a lot and some maybe haven’t. But FP3 is the time that we take it for a spin and have a look of it.”
“I think we have definitely understood it but, still, you have to set it up and go with a certain spec. The hyper seems to require something different to the ultra and the others, but we will see tomorrow.”
Hamilton is seeking his seventh win at the venue to match the great Michael Schumacher’s record of wins at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Practice on day one in Montreal was held under glorious blue skies and Hamilton acknowledged, “It’s been a beautiful day. The weather has been fantastic, the track feels amazing and better than ever. I don’t know if we’re faster yet than we’ve ever been, but I’ve really enjoyed it. We didn’t have any problems. It’s such a fun track to drive.”
“It’s not always that we start right out the box but it just started right. There are some things we just needed to adjust along the way. Making small increments from one time to another it always feels a little bit different, but it’s been good,” added Hamilton.
Max Verstappen set the pace in both sessions on Friday with the Pirelli pinks bolted to his Red Bull, his best lap time of 1:12.198 which was 0.8 of a second faster than Hamilton’s best on Supersofts.