Lewis Hamilton is searching for the sixth win of his career at the Canadian Grand Prix as he attempts to close the gap on Sebastian Vettel at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.
The Brit has secured back-to-back triumphs at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, winning the race in 2015 and 2016, and has enjoyed a rich vein of success at the track like no other in his career. This year, the 32-year-old will be looking to close in on Michael Schumacher’s record win total of seven in Montreal by adding another victory to his collection.
Hamilton desperately needs to triumph in Canada to keep pace with Vettel at the top of the standings. He suffered his worst performance of the season thus far in his last outing at the Monaco Grand Prix, w10here a poor qualifying session saw him eliminated in q2. As a result, he slipped 25 points behind the German at the top of the standings and is in need of a response. The Brit has fared extremely well in Montreal in the past and will be aiming to capitalise on the use of the track like he has in the past. Let’s explore his journey so far.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was the site of Hamilton’s first triumph in his Formula One career. Hamilton, then 22, led from the off and managed to secure the victory despite drama behind him which saw Robert Kubica involved in a violent crash, while only 12 of the competing 22 vehicles managed to complete the race. It was a big achievement for the Brit to secure the win, which put him in contention for the Drivers’ Championship in his maiden year in the sport, only to be narrowly beaten out by Fernando Alonso.
Despite claiming pole position in 2008, Hamilton was prevented from stringing back-to-back titles as Kubica bounced back from his crash from the previous year to record a surprise victory. The Pole was allowed to succeed as the Brit made a costly error slamming into the back of Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane. It was only the second retirement of his career and one that could have cost him later in the season, although he was ultimately able to clinch his first crown.
Battling Through Adversity
The Canadian Grand Prix was not part of the 2009 season after complaints were made over the surface, making it the first time a race had not been held in Northern America since 1958. The news would have been disappointing for Hamilton due to his success there, but he was well off the pace of eventual winner Jenson Button in the campaign.
In 2010, the race returned to the sport and Hamilton, highlighted the race’s importance to his success, claiming one of his three wins in the campaign in Montreal. Marc Webber attempted to use a two-stop strategy to defeat the Brit, but he was able to catch the Australian 20 laps from the finish to secure the victory. However, the win would be one of few high points in his season, where he finished fourth overall. His race in 2011 was a complete write-off from the start as he struggled in qualifying before he failed in a bid to overtake Button on the pit straight and collided with his teammate along with the wall. Hamilton was unable to continue, although his teammate managed to recover to win the race.
He bounced back the following season with one of the finest races of his career – meet that was filled with excitement from start-to-finish. Vettel secured pole but endured a tense battle with Hamilton and Alonso throughout the race. The German appeared to have done enough, but his tyres wore down towards the end of the race, while Alonso suffered the same fate, allowing Hamilton to take the victory. However, the win was not enough to help the Brit in his battle in the Drivers’ Championship as Vettel secured his third crown on the bounce.
Turning the Corner
In 2013 Vettel was at the height of his power with Red Bull and that included earning pole place in Canada, which allowed him to secure a comfortable win, with Hamilton finishing in third – almost 16 seconds off the pace. However, rule changes the following term addressed the balance and allowed Hamilton – now at Mercedes – to make a charge for the Drivers’ Championship. Although the Brit had enjoyed a fairly dominant start to the season – he suffered one a rare misfortune in his site of past glories. First losing his battle for pole with Nico Rosberg and then enduring brake issues that forced his retirement after 46 laps.
Hamilton ended that season with the title and on his return to Montreal in 2015 he notched his fourth victory at the venue, with a flawless drive from start to finish on his way to securing a second crown on the bounce. The 32-year-old’s enjoyed success once again in 2016, with a similarly dominant performance as he claimed pole position and followed that up with an excellent drive to secure the 25 points. It was once again not quite enough to win the Drivers’ Championship, with the Brit narrowly edged out by Rosberg for the title. Hamilton will be determined to avoid the same fate in 2017, with a victory a necessity in his bid to stop Vettel stretching his lead at the top of the standings. The Brit will know that a victory in Montreal must act as a spark rather than a false dawn in his title challenge.