Hamilton versus Vettel battle resumes in Montreal

Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton

The Canadian Grand Prix has been a happy hunting ground for Lewis Hamilton and he will look to bag a sixth career win on the Ile Notre Dame based circuit to refuel his hopes of another Formula 1 drivers title.

With 14 races remaining on the calendar it is far from do-or-die for Hamilton but the pressure is mounting on the Briton and Mercedes with archrival Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari threatening to widen the gap at the top of the championship standings.

Only Michael Schumacher (seven victories) has won the Canadian Grand Prix more times and Hamilton intends to close the gap further in Montreal as the race marks its 50th anniversary.

Hamilton needs to do so, at the scene of his first ever Formula One victory a decade ago, to reel in Vettel after the German led a Ferrari one-two in Monaco and powered 25 points clear.

“Montreal has been a great hunting ground for me in the past and I plan for it to continue,” the triple world champion told reporters.

With five wins and five poles from previous visits to Quebec, Hamilton would normally be the favourite, but champions Mercedes are no longer the dominant team.

“The Ferrari seems to work everywhere. The next 14 races are going to be very, very difficult,” he said after struggling to seventh place in Monaco.

“They have had arguably the strongest car all year. They look like our car which just worked everywhere last year.”

The race will also mark the return of twice world champion Fernando Alonso to the Formula One grid after the Spaniard skipped the Monaco Grand Prix last month to chase IndyCar glory at Indianapolis 500.

Alonso turned in an impressive performance at the famed Brickyard, qualifying fifth fastest and running at the front but late in the race suffered a familiar fate with his Honda power unit giving up.

Little has changed at struggling McLaren during Alonso’s brief sabbatical with the team still hampered by an uncompetitive Honda engine.

There is plenty of reason to party around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this week with the city celebrating its 375th anniversary, Canada its 150th birthday and the Canadian Grand Prix its 50th.

Williams driver Lance Stroll will be hoping to contribute to the party atmosphere.

For the first time since the days of 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, the Canadian Grand Prix will have some true home interest with teenager Stroll on the starting grid for Williams.

While home fans would love nothing more than to celebrate a maiden win, the 18-year-old Stroll arrives with more modest goals and is still seeking his first championship point in what has been a challenging debut season.

Reuters Statistics & Facts

  • Statistics for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix (Round seven of 20 races):
  • Lap distance: 4.361km. Total distance: 305.270km (70 laps)
  • Race lap record: Rubens Barrichello (Brazil), Ferrari 2004, One minute 13.622 seconds.
  • 2016 pole: Lewis Hamilton (Britain), Mercedes, 1:12.812
  • 2016 winner: Hamilton
  • Start time: 1800 GMT (1400 local)

Victories

  • Champions Mercedes have won 54 of 65 races since the introduction of the 1.6 litre V6 turbo hybrid power units in 2014, but only three of six this season.
  • Triple world champion Hamilton has 55 career victories, putting him second in the all-time list behind Michael Schumacher (91). Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has 45, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso is on 32 and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen 20.
  • Ferrari have won 227 races, McLaren 182, Williams 114, Mercedes 67 and Red Bull 52. McLaren and Williams have not won since 2012.
  • Monaco was Ferrari’s first one-two finish since 2010 (German Grand Prix). The Italian team have not won four races or more in a season since 2010.

Pole Position

  • Mercedes have been on pole in 60 of the last 65 races.
  • Hamilton has 64 poles so far, one short of the late Ayrton Senna’s career total and four behind Schumacher’s record 68.
  • Raikkonen’s pole in Monaco was his first since 2008.

Podium

  • Hamilton has 108 podiums to date and is second on the all-time list behind Schumacher (155). Vettel has 92, Raikkonen 86.
  • Monaco ended a 21-race podium streak by Mercedes, the fourth longest such run in the sport’s history.

Points

  • McLaren are the only team yet to score in 2017.
  • Monaco saw the end of Mexican Sergio Perez’s run of 15 successive races in the points for Force India. Vettel and Hamilton, each with 11 scoring finishes in a row, are the new leaders.
  • Force India’s proud boast of being the only team to have scored with both cars in every race this season also ended.

Canadian Grand Prix

  • This year marks the Canadian Grand Prix’s 50th anniversary.
  • Hamilton has won it five times (in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016) and this year’s race is also the 10th anniversary of his first. Michael Schumacher won a record seven times in Canada.
  • Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Vettel are also previous winners in Canada.
  • Ferrari last won in Montreal, a circuit named after their late great Gilles Villeneuve, in 2004 with Michael Schumacher.
  • McLaren have won 13 times in Canada to Ferrari’s 11.
  • Since 2000, the race has been won from pole seven times.
  • The rain-hit Canadian Grand Prix of 2011 was Formula One’s longest race, lasting four hours, four minutes and 39.537 seconds. The safety car was deployed six times, another record.

Milestone

  • Williams rookie Lance Stroll will be the first Canadian to start his home race since Jacques Villeneuve in 2006.
  • Monaco saw the first ever double points finish by the U.S.-owned Haas team.