Reigning Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says he is excited about the prospect of having a “real race” against Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the Canadian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver missed out on taking a record seventh pole position in Montreal as Vettel beat him by 0.206s to claim his first pole in 17 races - a run stretching back to last year’s German Grand Prix.

Hamilton remained upbeat despite failing to secure pole, with Mercedes hopeful about its race-day chances, having shown some promising race-pace throughout the weekend so far.

Speaking after qualifying, Hamilton said: “All weekend they’ve had really great pace and for a large part of it they were six tenths up on the straights, so we fought so hard throughout the weekend to make improvements.

“I’m actually really happy for Seb, he clearly did a really great lap. My first lap was really good and it felt great for a second to be on pole, particularly as I missed all of P2 yesterday (Friday), so quite far behind starting today (Saturday) but it’s been a real solid day from us.

“It’s a very, very short distance down to Turn 1 so it’s not the easiest to make places up but it’s a long, long race, so 70 laps is a long way to go.

“Of course, whatever opportunity comes we will try to capitalise on it but yeah, the race is very long, probably a one stop so looking after the tyres is going to be really key.

“It’s very hard to follow here, even though there’s mainly straights, they are very quick on the straights so I don’t know how following Seb is going to be - if I’m in that position.

“I just hope that we are able to be close and have a real race throughout the race.”

Hamilton does not believe a mistake at the hairpin - which cost him time in the final sector on his final flying effort in Q3 - ultimately made the difference in missing out on pole.

“It wasn’t frustration it’s just, you know, the team rely on me,” Hamilton replied when asked about his apology to Mercedes over team radio.

“It was a good lap but it was not good enough obviously. I had two really solid laps, no mistakes and I’m generally really happy with the job I did.

“Of course you can go back to the drawing board and say there’s always going to be a little bit more time in it but I don’t think I had two-and-a-half tenths, what they had or whatever it was.

“We just have to keep pushing, keep fighting,” he added. “We’re still in a strong position. But I think this is great for racing anyway. I think this is what we and what the fans want, to see us so close.

“If you looks at the top 15 or something there was around a second between us all. That’s really great to see. Everyone’s so close at this track and hopefully that provides good racing.”

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