Super-soft tyres cause lap times lottery (Canadian GP Practice 2 interactive data)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Alonso was fractionally quicker than Vettel on combined sector times
Alonso was fractionally quicker than Vettel on combined sector times

Why did so many drivers struggle with the super soft tyres in second practice? Take a closer look at the times from second practice in Canada with the interactive chart below:

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Tick/untick drivers? names to show their laps, click and drag to zoom

Why were the teams struggling so badly with the super-soft tyres? Bridgestone’s director of motorsport tyre development Hirohide Hamashima explains:

The dirty track surface here and the cooler than usual temperatures meant that graining was today?s talking point. The tyres were not able to work to their full potential due to not reaching their best operating temperature. This meant the tyres were sliding, causing transverse graining on front tyres from braking and transverse graining on the rears from traction demands.

We expect that the track surface will continue to improve with more rubber laid, and the graining will diminish. Weather forecasts also predict warmer temperatures which will be beneficial too. However, there is rain included in these forecasts so there is potential for this to be a very interesting weekend in terms of maximising tyre performance potential.
Hirohide Hamashima

As Hamashima points out, what the weather does next could be crucial. If it rains before the next session and the rubber built up over three hours of running is washed away the teams could find themselves back at square one.

But, as Fernando Alonso points out, if the weekend remains dry it should become less of a worry:

The soft tyre degrades very easily, but today is only Friday and the track conditions will change a lot between now and Sunday. In Bahrain, after the first day, we were all concerned, but then we all pitted around lap 20 without having any problems.
Fernando Alonso

There is a threat of showers through the weekend and Renault are expecting rain during the race. That would be a different matter, of course, as the teams would have to use their rain tyres.

The unpredictable conditions and lack of grip is giving the teams some serious headaches when it comes to setting up their cars. From radio conversations heard during second practice it’s clear Renault were tweaking their downforce levels and it seems Sauber are doing the same:

The conditions were very difficult to start with this morning. It was a case of running the car in the medium-downforce configuration. Kamui had to learn the circuit today, and for Pedro it was about getting a feeling for the car with the lower downforce level.
James Key

Renault, interestingly, had the fastest cars in a straight line in both practice sessions. That position was expected to be taken by McLaren, but even so Jenson Button think the car might be better suited to an even higher downforce configuration they are already using:

We?re possibly a little bit too quick along the straights, too. Maybe we?re not running enough downforce, but we?ll look at that.
Jenson Button

Red Bull have no shortage of downforce, of course. Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the session despite only having the 19th highest speed through the speed trap – 310.1kph versus Vitaly Petrov’s 319.8kph.

Vettel’s ‘ultimate lap’ – his best three sector times combined – was the second best, one thousandth of a second shy of Alonso’s 1’16.828, with Webber two tenths of a second behind.

While Vettel and Alonso set their best times on the super-soft tyres Nico Rosberg, third fastest, did his quickest lap on the medium compound.

At this stage it looks like being an unpredictable weekend where climatic conditions and difficult decisions about set-up will play a significant role.

All of which makes life even more difficult for the eight drivers who are new to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. But at least one of them is relishing the challenge of the Montreal track:

The circuit here is so narrow compared to places like Turkey. It?s great and much more exciting to race close to the wall as opposed to 200 metres away.
Nico H???lkenberg

Pos. Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Lap At time Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’16.877 20 57 32
2 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’16.963 0.086 23 65 35
3 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’17.151 0.274 8 35 34
4 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’17.273 0.396 21 64 33
5 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’17.401 0.524 22 63 33
6 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’17.415 0.538 20 64 28
7 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’17.522 0.645 7 15 29
8 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’17.529 0.652 24 66 36
9 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’17.688 0.811 13 46 34
10 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’17.903 1.026 8 18 35
11 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’17.961 1.084 5 12 33
12 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’18.385 1.508 25 60 27
13 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’18.447 1.570 21 55 41
14 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’18.582 1.705 12 29 40
15 22 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1’18.658 1.781 21 63 34
16 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’18.795 1.918 12 33 38
17 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’19.168 2.291 19 53 32
18 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’19.274 2.397 10 29 41
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’19.969 3.092 20 50 35
20 20 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1’20.879 4.002 17 58 29
21 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’21.097 4.220 21 59 31
22 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’21.346 4.469 5 81 11
23 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’21.488 4.611 5 18 25
24 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’21.577 4.700 26 81 30

2010 Canadian Grand Prix

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