If a second consecutive one-two finish in the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal last weekend and the assumption of the lead in both the drivers' and constructors' world championships was not enough to strike fear into the hearts of McLaren-Mercedes' F1 2010 rivals, then Lewis Hamilton predicting that other tracks later on in the season will suit the MP4-25 even more than the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve just might do it.
For the second time in as many races, Hamilton led team-mate, compatriot and title-winning successor Jenson Button home for a commanding double on the Île Notre Dame – already the Woking-based outfit's third one-two this year from the first eight races. Whilst chief rival Red Bull Racing was largely expected to struggle somewhat in Montreal, however – and likewise in Valencia in just over a week's time – the British star suggests that this new wave of McLaren domination could be merely the start.
“It was pretty full-on, but it wasn't flat-out in the sense of pushing from the start to the finish,” Hamilton recounted of his Canadian performance, speaking to his personal website. “It was full-on because you had to stay absolutely focussed on every lap, making sure the tyres were looking after themselves while also trying to attack, or hold off somebody behind you – that's a complicated balancing-act.
“The pit wall and the strategy team judged everything perfectly. Andy [Latham – race engineer] fed me lots of information throughout the race and really acted like a second pair of eyes for me. The team and I worked well together for this result.
“[The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve] was a good match [for the MP4-25], yes, but it wasn't a perfect one – we'd probably still look at other tracks coming up on the calendar as giving us a better opportunity to win. Montreal is quite an extreme circuit, and I think our strength was having a package that worked well against all those extremes.
“For example, we've been working very closely with Akebono all year to ensure that our brakes would perform consistently on what is one of the toughest tracks of the whole year for braking. We felt that if we were able to push aggressively for the whole race, then it might give us an advantage by pushing other teams whose braking performance might be more marginal, particularly at the end of the race. We've added up all those small gains everywhere – and that's why we've got a car and a team that's working so well together at the moment.”
That much is undeniable, but the 25-year-old is quick to stress just how quickly things are apt to change in 2010, with the advantage in the title chase having regularly swung from one driver to another over the early phases. The key to staying in charge, the Stevenage-born ace contends, is to keep scoring well and drive the only way he knows how – 'on the limit all the time'.
“It's great to be leading the world championship,” acknowledged the 13-time grand prix-winner, “but, I have to be honest, F1 is so tough and so competitive at the moment that you can't take anything for granted. While I might be on top right now, I know that I'll need to fight for every lap of the next eleven races to remain up there, and I think I'm the fifth leader of the championship so far this year, so it's pretty clear that it's not so easy staying on top.
“Our sport is so incredibly competitive at the moment and we're seeing different teams come to the forefront all the time, that this championship is going to be as much about playing the long game – minimising mistakes, scoring points at every race – as it is about success at individual races.
“Actually, I think this is the first time you can probably say that about an F1 championship. Whether it's the changes to the points system, or just the fact that there are maybe as many as ten drivers out there with the machinery capable of winning races, you can't afford to just take the points. You've got to be on the limit all the time – and I love that, because that's how I love to race.”