By Alan Baldwin
Lewis Hamilton has the perfect opportunity to get back on the winning track in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix after going astonishingly awry in Monaco.
Montreal is a favourite race for the double Formula One world champion, a fast track where he celebrated his first pole position and victory in his stellar 2007 debut season with McLaren.
Since then, the Mercedes driver has won twice more in Canada.
“I think everything that needs to be said about Monaco has already been said. Obviously, it was a huge disappointment for me and also for the team,” the Briton said before heading to Montreal.
“But we’ll learn from it and move forwards together like we always do. I just want to get back out there and bounce back – and I could hardly ask for a better place to do that than Montreal. This is always one of my favourite weekends.”
Hamilton has suffered disappointments too at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with its 300kph blasts and the ‘Wall of Champions’ at the treacherous final corner, and has yet to win there for Mercedes.
But when he has finished, it has been on the podium and his track record eclipses that of team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg.
Three-nil on wins, 4-1 on podium appearances, 3-1 on poles and 6-1 on front row starts, the statistics all point to Hamilton.
“The racing is fantastic, the city is a lot of fun and the crowds are really enthusiastic…and it’s given me some great memories, including my first win,” said the Briton.
“I know I’ve got the car underneath me and the team behind me to do it again, so I’m aiming for nothing less.”
Rosberg, who became only the fourth driver to win Monaco three times in a row after Mercedes blew a surefire victory for Hamilton by calling him in for a needless pitstop while leading, is not to be under-estimated however.
The German, now only 10 points adrift of his championship-leading team-mate after six races, qualified on pole in Montreal last year and is aiming for a hat-trick of wins for the season.
Both Mercedes drivers have new power units, having completed six race weekends on the previous ones, while rivals Ferrari may have upgrades to theirs.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, a first time winner in Montreal last year, can only dream of such reliability but the race – traditionally hard on brakes and engines – can throw up surprises.
The Australian is on his fourth and final penalty-free engine already, with the team leaving Monaco mulling whether to take a hit and use a fifth in Canada.
Ferrari, who have not won since 2004 at a circuit named after their late local hero, will be hoping four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel can at least finish on the podium for the sixth time in seven races.
Williams are confident too of a much better showing after failing to score in Monaco while McLaren’s Fernando Alonso aims to open his account for the season two weeks after Jenson Button did the same.