By Alex Kapadia
Tensions mounted on the first day of practise sessions for the Canadian Grand Prix as the tyres disintegrated on the track.
And reigning world champion Jenson Button reckons the severe wear on tyres which affected many of the drivers yesterday will play a major role in Sunday’s race strategies.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a favourite amongst the drivers, is partly made up of public roads, however grip levels were poor during Friday’s second practice session, which saw the drivers suffering with severe graining when they swapped to the softer option Bridgestone rubber for the latter part of the session.
Button was one of those and although he set the pace in Practice One, by the end of the afternoon session he was down in 11th place.
“The tyres aren’t lasting very long,” the McLaren driver said. “I ran with the Option tyre at the end with heavy fuel and it grained so much I came in, put the primes and went two or three seconds quicker than the other cars, which were running Option.
“Still, I started graining as well. We’ve got a few tyre issues, everyone is struggling with the same thing, so I think it will be a pretty interesting race to see what happens with strategies.”
Meanwhile, Hirohide Hamashima, director of motorsport tyre development for Bridgestone, said: “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.”
He added: “The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is always a difficult circuit to understand, even when weather conditions are favourable.
“We certainly would expect better performance from both compounds as the track surface gets more rubber laid on it and as the weather improves, but how the compounds will react relative to each other is a difficult question.
“Teams and drivers will have to work very hard this weekend.”