McLaren prepare for Ferrari fightback in North America
With the controversy of Monaco safely behind him, McLarens Lewis Hamilton is eager to go racing again. But whereas in Monte Carlo Hamilton had plenty of experience of driving (and winning), next weekends Canadian Grand Prix marks his very first appearance at Montreals Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.
I cannot wait to get back on track and continue to focus on racing, said Hamilton, who heads to North America level on points with championship leader and team mate Fernando Alonso. This will be my debut at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve; because of the chances there are to pass, it looks like a great track to compete on.
Since he made his Grand Prix debut in Australia at the start of the season, Hamiltons only significant error was his Thursday practice crash in Monaco. But despite his almost faultless record to date, the British rookie is taking nothing for granted in Montreal.
I have completed preparation work with my engineers at the McLaren Technology Centre specific to Canada and the US, and it will be great to finally take to the track here in Montreal," he said. It has some very distinctive characteristics, such as the low grip, the long straights, hard braking and so on, so my initial laps will focus on understanding all these and how best to drive the track to get good times.
The two McLarens came home more than a minute clear of their Ferrari opposition in Monaco, but Hamilton and his colleagues are under no illusions concerning their chances of maintaining such dominance.
"The Canadian Grand Prix is a very different event to the Monaco race, said McLaren's Formula One CEO Martin Whitmarsh. We go from the slowest, tightest track packed with corners on the calendar to a circuit that is all about long periods of power and braking.
The MP4-22 performed incredibly well in Monte Carlo, however as the track conditions are poles apart, we are not going to Montreal with the same expectations. We go to Canada aiming to fight for the victory and to maintain our positions at the top of both the constructors and drivers championships.
McLaren proved competitive in Montreal last year, with Kimi Raikkonen qualifying and finishing third. The win went to Alonso, who will be looking to repeat his victory next weekend, despite his previous run of bad luck at the circuit.
Until last year, I hadnt had great results in Canada, so it was fantastic to win there, said Alonso. It is always a tough race, and you see a lot of retirements because you are stressing the whole car with the high speeds and the hard braking zones. The track conditions also change over the race weekend, the grip levels improve as more rubber is laid and the dusty conditions. On race day, it is much better than Friday.
We have some new packages on the car for Montreal; we are all pushing hard to attack and fight for more race victories. It is a good circuit to race on as there are a number of places you can overtake, which makes it more exciting for the drivers, teams and fans.
In the drivers standings, Alonso and Hamilton have a five-point advantage over Felipe Massa, while in the constructors, McLaren lead Ferrari by 20 points.