Hamilton the jet setter lines up his response in Montreal
Lewis Hamilton is already on the other side of the Atlantic as he prepares to bounce back from his disappointment in Monaco with a strong result in...
Lewis Hamilton is already on the other side of the Atlantic as he prepares to bounce back from his disappointment in Monaco with a strong result in the Canadian Grand Prix.
And analysis of his performance in Montreal shows that history is on his side. The World Champion has again flown back to Los Angeles, where he has made several trips between races this season, despite the eight hour time difference with Europe.
Following the ill-judged pit stop that cost him an almost certain victory in the Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton heads to the Canadian Grand Prix knowing that the most painful aspect of his recent setback is that he's gone from a 27 point lead after Bahrain to just 10 points over teammate Nico Rosberg.
Despite the result in Monaco, Hamilton asserted to the BBC that he took comfort from the fact that he ‘blew [Rberg] away’ across the weekend. Such strong words demonstrate that Hamilton firmly believes he has the upper hand over Rosberg in pure performance terms, and he’ll undoubtedly be keen to press that advantage.
Fortunately for Hamilton, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has been a firm favourite of his ever since he took his maiden win on his first visit to the circuit in 2007. Only Michael Schumacher has taken more victories at the Canadian Grand Prix than Hamilton, with the high speed, low downforce and barrier lined circuit tailor made to suit Hamilton’s driving style – offering the perfect chance for the championship leader to bounce back at the first time of asking.
Hamilton’s first race in Montreal 2007 saw him take to the circuit like the proverbial duck to the waterways that surround the Ile Notre-Dame. Taking his first pole position by half a second from teammate Fernando Alonso, Hamilton drove a controlled race despite four safety car periods to seal his first victory in Formula One.
Hamilton repeated the trick in 2010, once again winning from his first pole position of the season. Hamilton subsequently made it three wins from three finishes in Montreal at the 2012 Canadian GP, taking a thrilling victory after gambling on a late pit stop for fresh tyres to overhaul Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso – a prescient echo of Hamilton’s strategic debacle last time out in Monaco.
However, as the table above illustrates, depute always being quick, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Hamilton on Sundays in Montreal – and his Canadian GP race record has as many busts as booms. In 2008, having started from pole position, he infamously crashed into the back of Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane - eliminating both drivers on the spot.
In 2011, Hamilton retired after a coming together with teammate and eventual race winner Button on the pit straight on lap eight. Last year, Hamilton suffered an MGU-K (kinetic motor generator unit) failure that subsequently resulted in a terminal overheating of the brakes, forcing him out of the race in the midst of a close battle for second with Nico Rosberg.
PERFOMANCE VS. TEAMMATES - Click tables to enlarge
Whilst Hamilton’s performance at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is strong when considered in isolation, the extent to which he has typically out-performed his teammates, as shown in the table above, offers a further illustration of his affinity with the track. Only once has Hamilton been outqualified in Montreal, when Nico Rosberg pipped him to pole position last year after the Briton locked up on both of his hot laps in Q3.
On every other attempt he has qualified comfortably faster his teammate, with Jenson Button in 2011 the only man to get within four tenths of Hamilton in Montreal qualifying in the same machinery prior to Rosberg’s 2014 effort. In the races that he’s finished, Hamilton has never been beaten to the chequered flag by a teammate in Canada – with Jenson Button the only man to run him close when finishing second by 2.3 seconds as part of a McLaren 1-2 in 2010.
The circuit has almost unique characteristics in Formula One terms; a track of relatively few corners representing a series of high-speed sprints between chicanes bookended by two massive braking zones at either end of the course – with narrow concrete walls lining much of the lap to punish the slightest of mistakes.
Hamilton is a driver well known for being aggressively late on the brakes, with a natural feel for modulating the brake pedal to prevent lock-ups during heavy braking. So when he's on song and has the brakes how he wants them, which wasn't the case at this stage last season, Montreal is his kind of track,
“Braking is important because it is where everyone gains all the time. I’ve always been the latest of the late brakers, but you also have to modulate the brakes through the corner to control the car," he wrote about Montreal last year,
“If you don’t have the feel you need in that control zone, then you don’t have the confidence to attack the braking zones because you’re worried about locking the wheels or the stopping power. And if you damage these tyres, they don’t come back.Each of Hamilton’s three previous victories at the Canadian GP has seen him take the lead of the world championship. Although the scenario this time around is slightly different, as he leads already, Hamilton will be hoping it’s fourth time lucky in terms of leaving Montreal with a race victory and reversing the decline in his lead in the championship standings.
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Hamilton the jet setter lines up his response in Montreal
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