Hamilton has a lot to prove in Montreal
Circvit Length: 4.361km RAce DistAnce: 305.27km 2014 Winner: Daniel Ricciardo (Reä Bvll)
0 It is everything that Monaco is not as Lewis Hamilton lines up on the grid in Montreal with the best stats, but perhaps the lowest confidence he has felt in a while.
The British racer is commanding attention in the build-up to the Canadian Grand Prix not for his on-track prowess, but rather for Mercedes’ Monte Carlo pit-wall blunder.
Robbed of what looked to be a sure victory last time out, when an erroneous call to pit for fresh tyres after the safety car dropped him from first to third, both Hamilton and Mercedes will be under the spot light today with much to prove.
The first test, and arguably the most trying, will be to show that he still trusts the team with whom he recently signed a new three-year contract.
Although Hamilton has said he will have “100% confidence in the team’s strategy decisions in the future”, only the pit-to-car radio communication will illustrate whether there is a flicker of doubt.
Added to that, Hamilton needs to rise above it all. In recent years, there have been occasions when mental strength has been his Achilles heel, leaving some to question whether he can overcome adversity.
A more mature, level-headed driver demonstrated last year that he can as he pushed aside his clash with Nico Rosberg in Belgium to go on a five-race winning streak, in effect sealing the championship in revenge.
But as he chases a fourth Canadian GP win, Hamilton’s problems at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve may yet again not be of his own making, but rather Mercedes’.
Last year, at the high-speed, fast-flowing circuit, both W05 Mercedes’ suffered ERS failures, resulting in Hamilton not finishing, while Rosberg held on for second place. And although this year the Mercedes W06 appears to have shrugged off its predecessor’s reliability issues, the team has experienced brake troubles. Opting for aerodynamics over cooling, Mercedes’ bid to stay ahead of Ferrari could, ultimately, be their downfall today.
The Scuderia, who spent engine tokens in the time between Monaco and Montreal, will be determined to make use of the track’s flowing characteristics to power their way on to the podium. A victory for Sebastian Vettel would shake up the title race, which after six grands prix has already deteriorated into a two-driver, one-team event.
With the safety car and a meeting or two with the Wall of Champions always a possibility in Canada, those behind will be hoping to pick up the spoils should it go wrong for the frontrunners.
However, the chances of Red Bull repeating last year’s success, Williams getting a car on the podium or even McLaren, which arrived with more horsepower from Honda, securing a doublepoints haul may all depend on the weather. Rain is on the horizon and a wet track never mixes well with high speed.