Tough tyre test awaits suppliers in Canada 08 Jun 2004
Montreals Gilles Villeneuve circuit is one of the seasons most challenging tracks for the tyre manufacturers. Its mixture of high-speed straights, low-speed corners and heavy braking zones make it a stern test of a cars rubber. Tyre choice is further complicated by the smooth track surface and the venue's changeable weather.
After the Nurburgring, where tyres are subjected to very even loads during the course of a lap, we will stick with compounds from the softer end of our range for Montreal although the circuit parameters are very different from those we encountered in Germany, explained Pascal Vasselon, Michelins Formula One programme manager.
There are no quick corners and cars are constantly accelerating hard from hairpin bends or slow chicanes, a factor that inflicts a substantial load on the rear tyres. Even a slight rise in temperature can be enough to put them under great duress. Furthermore, you cant choose too hard a compound because the circuit has a low-grip surface. Its a difficult compromise that makes Montreal an interesting exercise for tyre manufacturers.
Of course, the teams get no chance to test at Montreal, so both Michelin and Bridgestone have had to base their compound choices on data from recent races and tests elsewhere. The French company will be bringing three dry-weather options to Canada, while their Japanese rivals have selected four.
Vasselon admitted that it would be would be very easy to make a mistake when finalising your options for the Gilles Villeneuve circuit, but both he and Bridgestone counterpart Hisao Suganuma are confident they have chosen the rubber best capable of dealing with Montreals potential pitfalls.
When making their choices, the teams have had to think about both heat durability and stability under braking as it is a tough circuit with high top speeds, explained Suganuma. We have also had to take into consideration that Montreal can be subject to a wide range of weather conditions. If sunny, track temperatures can be up in the forties but if, like last year, we have cloudy weather, temperatures can be low."
Bridgestone have prevailed in Canada for the last two years, with Ferraris Michael Schumacher taking victory on both occasions. Michelins last Montreal win was in 2001 with Ralf Schumacher and Williams.