Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has confirmed Lewis Hamilton's suggestion that the Canadian Grand Prix could be completed with just a single stop for tyres, much as Monaco was two weeks ago.
The two street circuits share common rubber in Pirelli's soft and supersoft compounds, but Montreal had been expected to be a little harder on the tyres.
Cooler than expected ambient temperatures on Friday meant that the teams had to wait until Saturday morning to get a clearer picture of how the tyres would react when the sun came out but, despite the mercury reaching 24 degrees centigrade by the start of qualifying, degradation was still not as bad as anticipated.
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel took his second pole position of the season, using the supersoft to lap the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1min 13.784secs and go quickest for the second year in succession, while Hamilton and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso line up behind the German. The all-important final qualifying session was run exclusively on the supersoft, although Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Jenson Button completed just one run on the soft tyres, putting him on a different strategy to those around him.
Vettel's pole time – the most dominant performance seen in any of the Montreal sessions held so far – was set on his second run with the supersoft, although his time on the first run would also have been good enough for pole. Despite the gap enjoyed by the German, however, things remain close, and the 17 drivers that went into qualifying two ended the 15-minute session split by a single second.
Longevity of the rubber will be a key component in the race, especially with an estimated 20-degree difference in temperatures between Friday and Sunday, but Hembery believes that one stop could still be the strategy of choice for some.
“The difference between the two compounds was less than many people anticipated in this afternoon's warmer conditions, with approximately half a second between the soft and the supersoft tyres," he noted, "With a short lap and evenly-matched cars, it was almost impossible to predict who might end up with pole position, as the gaps from first to last were incredibly small: just one second spanning the 17 cars in qualifying two.
"The level of tyre degradation is so far quite contained, with the supersoft lasting for 30 laps or more, so we could see a one-stop strategy from some teams, while the majority might try a two-stop strategy. The tactics will consist of the timing of the stops, and seeing which teams can get the most performance and durability out of the tyre that suits them best. Canada is always one of the most unpredictable races of the year and the last four races this year have been won by the driver who started from pole – but historically this has been less important in Canada.”