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Hamilton seeks magnificent seven in Canada

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Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton (R) and teammate Mercedes' Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas (L) celebrate. AFP

Hamilton seeks magnificent seven in Canada

Lewis Hamilton will seek to complete a magnificent seven for himself and his record-breaking Mercedes team with another victory at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The defending five-time world champion can equal Michael Schumacher’s record total of triumphs at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and extend his team’s record season-opening run to seven straight wins with his 78th career
success.

But even with the likely boost of an upgraded Mercedes power-unit, he and his team are wary of any hint of over-confidence after the Briton’s stirring triumph under severe pressure at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix.

“We need to learn from that,” said Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff, referring to a strategic error that left Hamilton defending grimly on worn ‘medium’ tyres, not ‘hard’.

Hamilton’s individual brilliance salvaged victory in Monte Carlo, but Wolff is aware that he cannot do the same again in Montreal.

“If we have this situation again, in Montreal, we lose the race,” he added.

“It will be a huge challenge for us as the track characteristics could favour our opponents. There are long straights and fewer corners . . . But, we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Hamilton need only recall his plight last year to serve as a reminder against any kind of complacency.

Then he was aiming to be the first driver to take four successive poles and wins on one of his favourite circuits, where he won his maiden race and has claimed six wins from 11 starts, including nine from the front row.

Instead, he finished fifth with engine problems as four-time champion Sebastian Vettel dominated, taking pole and victory for Ferrari. Team principal Mattia Binotto does not appear optimistic for a repeat.

“I think we will be in better shape, but the best car is still the Mercedes . . . Maybe the gap will close,” he said.

After his emotional feat in Monaco, where his triumph was dedicated to the late Niki Lauda, a three-time former world champion and Mercedes’ former non-executive chairman, Hamilton arrives in Canada with a 17-point lead ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

He suggested that the team would have a new engine for the power-hungry Montreal contest, following Ferrari, Honda – for Red Bull – and Renault in introducing their upgrades already.

He may need it as Vettel and Ferrari seek to end a run of 14 races without a win, stretching back to last August. The ‘Scarlet Scuderia’, who are seeking to recruit technical staff from rival teams, may also gain from a fired-up show from Charles Leclerc following his troubled early exit in his hometown race last time out.

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