Lewis Hamilton believes his season will only improve after his win at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, having narrowed the gap in the title battle with his Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg, from 43 points to nine in the space of just two races.
However the world champion, who was surprised at how quickly he has come back, expects the fight to remain close throughout the season.
Having won the previous round at Monaco, Hamilton’s superb drive and perfect team tactics paid off at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with victory despite a valiant effort from Sebastian Vettel, whose Ferrari squad gambled on making a two-stop strategy work to Hamilton’s one. The German finished second but Rosberg, who clipped wheels with Hamilton on the first corner of the first lap and lost places going wide, could manage only fifth.
With the win Hamilton had secured his fifth victory in Montreal and a swing of 34 points after a difficult start to the season and left Rosberg reeling at how quickly the British driver had come back.
“I could never have predicted that. If I was to put money down,” Hamilton said of closing the points gap so quickly. “I would never have tried to predict that. I thought Monaco might have been a one-off; a fluke kind of thing. But the race was not a fluke, it was a great strong race.”
It had created the momentum he wanted to exploit. “I am going to continue to push the car for as long as it stays together,” he added. “But the way it is going, I don’t see that strength diminishing. I think we are still going to go from strength to strength.”
Having suffered technical problems in three qualifying sessions this year, which had attracted questions and conspiracy theories as to the wisdom of Mercedes’ switch of some mechanics between Rosberg and Hamilton before the season began, hewas pleased that his crew were on a roll as well. “On our side of the garage we are starting to show real strength and coming through with the results, which is warming and confidence-building for everyone here,” he said.
Having worked his rubber superbly to stave off a charge from Vettel in the final third, the only part of the race that had not gone to plan was, again, the start. A slipping clutch was responsible and led to the touch with Rosberg, who later said he was “pissed off” at the incident.
Poor starts had cost Hamilton in Australia and Bahrain and he admitted the team would look into it. “I did the [start] procedure exactly as I was asked to, so I didn’t make a mistake with it,” he said. “We are going to investigate why. It is not the first time that it has been like that. They don’t quite understand it so we have to work on it. This clutch is definitely catching us out.”
The team have scant time to do so. The next round is in Baku is this week and Hamilton knows that his team-mate will come back at him. “I think he drove well all weekend,” said Hamilton. “It is a positive in terms of points but Nico is going to continue to push.
“I need to win every race. I want to win every race. It is not a need, it is a desire and it has shown once again I am just as focused as any of the guys here.”
Regarding the incident between the two Mercedes drivers, who knocked one another out of the race in Spain, Toto Wolff, the team’s executive director, confirmed that Hamilton was suffering with understeer and had the right into the corner. “From the team’s perspective, you are starting one and two, you come out of turn one, second and ninth, that is not pleasant,” he said. “I have a deja vu, we are having these discussions after every race. But then if you are on the inside, you dictate the line.”
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