The qualifying session for the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix proved to be a wild affair with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen comfortably outpacing the field. Surprisingly it was Alpine’s Fernando Alonso who qualified in second with the two-time world champion outpacing compatriot Carlos Sainz, who claimed third for Ferrari.
However, with Saturday’s qualifying being run in the wet, the forecast for Sunday predicts a dry session, meaning that there will be movement up and down the order come race day.
As always the pit stop strategy employed by the teams will determine a lot and the tyre strategy could prove to be a lottery with the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve often requiring a Safety Car or two during the race.
What are Pirelli saying?
Pirelli have opted to bring their softest range of tyres to the venue with the C3, C4, and C5 compounds available to the drivers. The Italian tyre brand predicts a one-stop race with the optimum strategy being starting on the mediums before completing the race on the hards.
However, given that the last race in Montreal was in 2019, with the cars now significantly different, the strategy could be different as a lot will depend on the wear witnessed on a track famous for its heavy braking zones.
“Canada will pose a number of question marks for the teams: the weather is often variable, all previous data is three years old, and we have a completely different range of tyres with new compounds and structures, on a track that is hardly ever used – which will lead to a very high degree of evolution,” Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Mario Isola said.
“Compared to their last visit to Montreal, the drivers should find compounds that are more stable with a wider working range, enabling them to push harder throughout each stint with a much lower risk of overheating.
“One interesting aspect to Montreal is that it has one of the lowest pit lane time loss penalties on the calendar, meaning that a car can be in and out of the pit lane in less than 20 seconds. This could open up a few options in terms of strategy.”
Subplots to look out for
Given the wet conditions in qualifying, the grid was somewhat turned on its head with the likes of Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez starting at the back of the grid and midfield respectively.
Behind the leading trio of Verstappen, Alonso and Sainz, it was Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who showed just how good he is in difficult conditions, qualifying a season-best fourth.
Haas had a spectacular day with Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher qualifying fifth and sixth and the American team will be looking to make the most of their starting positions by bringing home a healthy haul of points.
As stated, the appearance of a Saftey Car could be another variable that both the teams and drivers need to look out especially given the nature of the circuit’s final corner, which is famously dubbed the “Wall of Champions.”