Fresh from the 1-2 result it inherited in Turkey, McLaren heads for the Canadian Grand Prix expecting to be able to take the fight to Formula One title rival Red Bull Racing.
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were the only drivers able to live with the Red Bulls at Istanbul Park, and were therefore perfectly placed to capitalise when Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel clashed while disputing the lead on lap 40. To underline the gulf between the top four cars and the rest in round seven, Webber was able to rejoin from the run-off area, complete a slow lap and then pit for fresh tyres and a new nose and still finish on the podium, and McLaren is keen to use its new-found performance to put further pressure on the qualifying kings in Montreal.
Adding to the Woking team's confidence is the belief that the Montreal track will play into the hands of the MP4-25 in the same way that Melbourne's Albert Park did.
“Off the back of a very strong result in Turkey, we feel that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will be well suited to the characteristics of MP4-25," team principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed, "It's a low-downforce track where straight-line speed is fundamental to a good lap time, and we'll be looking for another strong result before the circus returns to Europe for the rest of the summer."
After a year off the calendar while it sorted out the terms of its deal with Bernie Ecclestone, Montreal returns to general acclaim from the F1 fraternity in 2010. While both McLaren drivers are looking forward to the chance to tackle the blasts around the site of Expo '67, Turkish GP winner Lewis Hamilton has more reason than most to anticipate his return.
“I won my first grand prix in Montreal," he explained, "2007 seems like such a long time ago, but I still have some absolutely fantastic memories of that weekend - the pole position, the crazy number of safety cars, the uncertainty in the final laps and, then, at last, crossing the line, which just a massive feeling of relief and amazement at the same time. It was fantastic.
“Returning for 2010 is great, because it's such a fast, demanding and unforgiving circuit – I love racing there. It's an incredibly tough track too. Even if you can avoid the walls, which are really close and exciting at some places, the surface is very treacherous offline because of all the marbles. It's a place where you don't want to make even a tiny mistake."
“And the city is a fantastic place too. It's great to be heading back to North America after two years away. The people in Montreal really embrace their race and there's a lot of support for the drivers and the teams. I can't wait to get back there.”
Expecting an equally warm welcome from the local residents, Jenson Button reckons that Montreal could throw up a surprise result - even if he hopes that the MP4-25 will be the car to beat.
“It's fantastic to be going back to Montreal after a year away - I think everyone in F1 loves the city, the people and the track, so it's very fitting that we're heading back, particularly during one of the best seasons we've had for years," the reigning world champion commented, “Canada is always an unpredictable weekend – it's a bit of a one-off, which is great for F1, and I think this year's race has all the ingredients for a classic.
“Looking back at the pace of the Turkish Grand Prix, which was run pretty much flat-out from start to finish, it's going to be interesting to see how Canada plays out. It's an extremely fast circuit, but it isn't a place that tolerates even the slightest mistake because of the proximity of the concrete walls. The track configuration should suit the MP4-25, as it's got a couple of slowish corners that lead onto long straights, so we should be able to use the combination of the Mercedes-Benz engine and our aero package to be competitive in both qualifying and the race."