Lewis Hamilton targeting Canadian GP surprise with ‘fighting spirit’ warning shot

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton's eyes are visible through the visor of his helmet in the Mercedes garage during Canada practice

Does Lewis Hamilton see an opportunity for Mercedes to spring a surprise in Canada?

Lewis Hamilton has declared that Mercedes are closer to the front at the Canadian Grand Prix, with the seven-time World Champion in “fighting spirit” after a “great” Friday in Montreal.

With eight races completed, Mercedes are still awaiting a first podium finish of the F1 2024 season having fallen behind McLaren and Ferrari in the race to catch Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to spring a surprise at Canadian Grand Prix?

Yet the Silver Arrows showed flashes of promise in changeable conditions on Friday at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with Hamilton classified fourth and seventh in FP1 and FP2 respectively, having been prevented from finishing his fastest lap in the afternoon session.

Hamilton, who announced earlier this year that he will join Ferrari on a multi-year deal in F1 2025, cut an enthusiastic figure at the end of FP2, revealing he is confident of a good result in Montreal after a positive practice day.

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He said: “I felt great.

“I was just raring to go just every second. I kept telling the guys: ‘Just get out, get out, get out.’

“I was rushing my guys – ‘let’s go, let’s go’ – just to maximise time on track whatever the conditions.

“This is a track where it’s building blocks, so it’s about just getting as much time on track and understanding both conditions and also the changes they made to the surface and also to some of the runoff areas.

“It was a really good session, a good day. The car was feeling strong, so I thoroughly enjoyed the session.

“I didn’t get to finish my [quickest] lap.”

Asked if he is targeting taking the fight to the cars in front of Mercedes, he replied: “Honestly, it’s too early to say.

“I feel like I’m in fighting spirits, I feel like the car is reacting to my inputs and I feel really confident out there.

“But we won’t know til we get out [tomorrow]. Saturday is often a different day for us, but I’m hoping tomorrow is a good day.

“But I think in either conditions I felt really strong today, so I’m really hopeful.

“I do feel like we’re closer to the front this weekend.”

Hamilton famously claimed his first career victory in Montreal in just his sixth race with McLaren in 2007, the first of seven wins at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the British driver.

The 39-year-old expressed his adoration for the venue and likened the changeable conditions to a summer’s day in his homeland, with Montreal hit by hailstones shortly before the start of Friday’s running.

Hamilton added: “This circuit is amazing. It’s one of the best circuits.

“Today is definitely an odd one, it was like a summer’s day in the UK or something.

“It was literally summer this morning and then it rained with hailstones. I don’t even remember the last time I saw hailstones but they were huge.

“And then sunny again, and really hot and humid, and then rain again.

“If only we had started the day a bit earlier, we would have caught the two good spots in the day.”

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