Wolff plays mind games af­ter Mercedes’ un­set­tling en­coun­ters

CityPress - - Sport - MICHELLE FOS­TER sports@city­press.co.za (Merce­ces)

From top dog to un­der­dog. At least that is what Toto Wolff would have us be­lieve as Mercedes pre­pare for the Cana­dian GP – a race won by Lewis Hamil­ton on five oc­ca­sions.

A prob­lem­atic week­end from their lead driver in Monaco and a clear in­di­ca­tion that Fer­rari have cho­sen a “num­ber one” have left Mercedes reel­ing.

Not only did they re­lin­quish the Con­struc­tors’ Cham­pi­onship lead on the streets of Monte Carlo, but Hamil­ton trails Se­bas­tian Vet­tel by 25 points – the same num­ber for win­ning a race if one of the chas­ing pack could cast aside what fin­ish­ers two to 10 also ac­crue.

Monaco’s fall­out had Wolff stat­ing that Mercedes were the un­der­dogs and Fer­rari the clear favourites.

A red top two sweep in Monaco does not, how­ever, equate to a strong car at the power-hun­gry, brake-eat­ing Cir­cuit Gilles Vil­leneuve.

Some pun­dits be­lieve Fer­rari’s first win in Monaco since 2001 marked a turn­ing point for a team that has not won a Driv­ers’ ti­tle since 2007.

It is per­haps to­day’s Cana­dian Grand Prix that will be the true test of their resur­gence.

The Scud­e­ria have not won in Mon­treal since Michael Schu­macher’s un­prece­dented sev­enth win back in 2004.

The same can­not be said of Mercedes.

Hamil­ton will ar­rive on the grid chas­ing his third suc­ces­sive Cana­dian GP win and his sixth in to­tal.

His­tory is very much on the Bri­ton’s side, espe­cially as Vet­tel has only won here once – in 2013.

His­tory, though, may be all that is on Hamil­ton’s side be­cause his tyres def­i­nitely aren’t.

Pirelli is once again bring­ing its soft­est range, which in­cludes the ul­tra­softs – the tyre that be­fud­dled DRIV­ERS SeLAstiAn Vet­tel

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CON­STRUC­TORS

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10 Lewis HAmil­ton

Valt­teri Bot­tas Kimi Rfikkö­nen Daniel Ric­cia­rho Max Ver­stap­pen Ser­gio Perez Car­los Sainz Jr Felipe Massa Este­flan Ocon

Fer­rAri

Merce­hes Reh Bvll-Tag Hever Force In­hia-Merce­hes Toro Rosso-Fer­rari Wil­liams-Merce­hes Re­navlt Haas-Fer­rari Savfler-Fer­rari McLaren-Honha GER GBR FIN FIN AUS NED MEX ESP BRA FRA FR MC MC FR RB RB FI TR WL FI FR MC RB FI TR WL RN HA SB ML PTS

129 104

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25 20

19 PTS

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29 20

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Hamil­ton and his in­con­sis­tent W08 in Monaco.

But while Hamil­ton and Vet­tel prom­ise to set the stage alight at the front, it is per­haps those be­hind who have the big­gest sto­ries to tell.

Hav­ing been firmly rel­e­gated to “num­ber two” sta­tus last time out, whether by race strat­egy or de­sign, Kimi Räikkö­nen needs a strong week­end to prove that he is not a sec­ond.

And Jolyon Palmer needs an even stronger fin­ish to hold on to his race seat.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports ear­lier in the week, to­day’s Grand Prix is of Vente: Mon­trEal First Granc Prix: 1978 Nt­mWer of laps: 70 Circ­tit length: Race cis­tance: 2016 win­ner: do-or-die con­se­quence for the British racer, who has yet to get off the mark and score any points this sea­son.

Although Palmer has had the worst of Re­nault’s re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues, he has also been their worst driver, leav­ing the En­stone team pon­der­ing whether it is time to re­place him.

He may know the an­swer to that this evening.

Another driver look­ing to get in­side the top 10 is Lance Stroll, although that’s not the case if you ask him.

The Cana­dian rookie said he was tar­get­ing im­prove­ments and not

4.961km 905.27km LEwis Hamil­ton

points on a race-by-race ba­sis, how­ever, un­less his points start to out­num­ber his crashes, that pay driver tag may see him scorned and not loved by his home fans.

Mean­while, Fer­nando Alonso is back to his “day job” af­ter his In­di­anapo­lis 500 bid was scup­pered by a Honda en­gine fail­ure.

Same story ... dif­fer­ent se­ries. Or is it?

Un­for­tu­nately for McLaren, who have made some not so thinly veiled threats to drop Honda’s en­gines, the head­line tonight is likely to be “same se­ries, same story”.

– TEAMtalk Me­dia

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