Former F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton admits that he 'can't keep the smile off his face' heading to Montreal for this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix, for not only is the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve the scene of his breakthrough success in the top flight three years ago, but he contends that his McLaren-Mercedes team is now 'absolutely on it'.
With Red Bull Racing having proven the undisputed benchmark in F1 2010 to-date, the Woking-based outfit finally got on terms with its Milton Keynes rival in the Turkish Grand Prix just over a week ago, and the pressure applied by both Hamilton and team-mate and compatriot Jenson Button was inarguably a factor in the desperate overtaking move by Sebastian Vettel that resulted in himself and Mark Webber crashing out of contention for victory in Istanbul and handing McLaren its second one-two of the campaign practically on a plate – and with it, the 2008 world champion's first triumph of the season.
That, the 25-year-old affirms, was down to the team's relentless work ethic, already ably witnessed last year when McLaren turned around a 2.5-second deficit to the front-runners at the beginning of the campaign to steal pole position in four of the last seven races. With less of a comeback to pull off twelve months on, Hamilton is buoyant about his prospects looking forwards now.
“It was such a great achievement for the team and for me to finally get a win this year,” he reflected of his Turkish success, speaking to his personal website. “I have been working hard all year for that win, so for the opportunity to finally arrive I felt it was a blessing. It felt good; I felt strong all weekend and knew I could challenge the Red Bulls and I did – it was wicked!
“The team did a solid job as they always do throughout the weekend, and without their continued hard work – both on and off the track – we would not be in the position we are to compete with the Red Bulls. For this I am extremely grateful, and I want to congratulate them on our success.
“It was almost ten races since I had won a race, but it's all good. I think most drivers would be happy with that. For some its 20, 50 or 100, so I remain grateful to be in the position I am – and I have no doubt at all that with this approach we can win more races this year.”
Along the way, Hamilton had to get the better of Button in a brief but fierce internecine scrap that caused some to fear that the two McLarens might end up going the same way as the two Red Bulls – but in a show of mutual respect in giving each other just
enough room to run side-by-side, the British duo held it together, and Hamilton ultimately re-emerged back ahead.
“I think that added to the win,” opined the Stevenage-born ace. “To finally have a race with my team-mate – wheel-to-wheel – was a great feeling, and to come out on top was a bonus. I am looking forward to many more races like that where we have fun, hard battles yet fair in our race to the championship. I've known Jenson for a very long time, and I think we have a lot of respect for each other and [for]what we've achieved as drivers. We're both world champions, so we have a certain amount of pressure removed from our shoulders too.
“I've really got to know Jenson well over the past six months. We've been working hard, we've spent a lot of time together, at the circuit and at events arranged by Vodafone and our other partners – I think that, because we've spent a lot of downtime together during filming days or appearances, we've actually got to know each other better than if, say, we'd only been working together at the track. He brings a lot of positive energy to the race weekends, and he's made our team stronger, so these are all positives.