McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says the only way to find out if the decision to qualify Lewis Hamilton on the option tire at the Canadian Grand Prix was right will be if he wins the race.
Hamilton ended Red Bull Racing's pole position streak in Montreal by using the super-soft tire which, while quicker for a single lap, will not last as long as the medium tires used by main rival Red Bull Racing. That tire choice means both teams will be running very different strategies in the race – and Whitmarsh thinks it too early to say now which was the right route.
"Lewis was quick on both types of tires," said Whitmarsh. "We had quite a lot of debate in the team about which way we should go, and I guess we will know after the race if we got it right.
"Inevitably, everyone has to use the option tire at some point and it will be I think difficult for someone who starts on the prime to run 20-30 laps and then switch to the option and go to the end. You definitely have to two stop if you start on the prime, and we will see. If there are safety cars then it may make it look a better or worse decision, but to get to the end you have to run with the option tire. It will clearly be a short stint and, as everyone has to do that, we are choosing to do that at the beginning of the race."
The danger for Hamilton is that if he does not build up enough of a gap early in the race, then he will not be able to change to the medium tires and resume on track ahead of the slower midfield cars that have started on that compound.
"When you are without refueling, you are trying to drop into gaps," added Whitmarsh. "In truth, I think even with the prime tire there is fairly serious degradation. I don't think people will be running as long on the prime tire as we have perhaps seen on a few occasions this year."