TORONTO - As far a race tracks go the Canadian Grand Prix’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has always been a very special place for Lewis Hamilton.
And why not?
It was the scene of his first Formula One victory for McLaren Mercedes and his first pole position.
The 26-year-old Briton also comes to the 2011 edition of the Canadian GP as defending champion, winning from the pole last season.
So to say Hamilton is anxious to get back to the place that has supplied him with such glory would be an understatement.
Especially so this year where he is trying desperately to keep pace with red hot Sebastian Vettel in the world championship.
On paper Hamilton appears to be having a pretty good season with a win in China, a pair of second-place finishes in Australia and Spain to go with a fourth-place finish in Turkey.
Yet he sits 58 points — a huge gap in F-1 — behind Vettel, who has quashed all comers this season with five wins for Red Bull Racing in the first six rounds of the championship.
Hamilton feels, however, that Canada will give him a boost he can carry through the rest of the season.
“Montreal is a very special place for me,” he said. “I’ve always got on really well with the track, the layout seems to suit my driving style, and I won last year from the pole position.”
While the Red Bull Renaults have been strong in almost every area so far in 2011, Hamilton thinks Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is the kind of track that favours the McLaren Mercedes.
“Our car should be well suited to this track,” he said. “We have a great engine, the best KERS Hybrid system in the sport and excellent traction out of slow corners. I’ll be looking for a strong result on Sunday.”
In a bow to the 110,000 or so fans who will make the trek to Ille Notre-Dame, Hamilton said a big part of his love for the Canadian race is the enthusiasm those fans bring to the race.
“Perhaps even more importantly, the fans in Montreal and everyone in North America who makes the trip to the city are some of the best in the world,” he said. “They are so positive, supportive and friendly. My trips to the city have been some of my favourite experiences in Formula One.”
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