As if the maturity and level-headedness Lewis Hamilton demonstrated on the way to his maiden victory in Formula One wasn’t enough, one year on and the British star insists he has grown even stronger.
The Formula One entourage heads across the Atlantic for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal next week, a trip which carries special significance for Hamilton who returns to the home of his first career victory, what he describes as one the biggest accomplishments of his life.
In an incident-packed race that saw no fewer than four safety cars, the McLaren ace kept his head while all around him others were losing theirs – most notably then team-mate Fernando Alonso whose forays off the track at Turn 1 were as frequent as the appearance of the safety car itself – to seal a dominant pole-to-flag win.
Fresh from an impressive victory last week in a similarly chaotic Monaco Grand Prix, his first win at the Principality and his sixth career triumph, Hamilton makes the pilgrimage to the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve this year with the firm belief that he is even more at one with his car and team.
“Last year in Canada was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life,” reminisces the 23-year-old, “to take my maiden pole and victory in Formula 1 was incredible, even more so as it was with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.”
“Since then I think I’ve matured a lot, I think I have grown stronger as a driver and have become closer to the team.”
The win in Montreal was made even sweeter for Hamilton and McLaren given that rivals Ferrari were widely expected to revel in the low-downforce arena.
The Scuderia , who had just been trounced, as they were this year, by the silver cars at Monaco, were expecting the F2007, with its then comparatively longer wheel-base, to be much better suited to the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve. But the Italian outfit eventually disappointed in the race, Kimi Raikkonen getting involved in a tangle on the opening lap and Felipe Massa famously running the red light during the safety-car induced pit-lane closure.
This year, Ferrari showed themselves to be much closer to McLaren in Monaco, the Scarlet cars locking out the front row, albeit eventually succumbing to the weather, an infringement on the starting grid, and Hamilton’s sensational drive.
Regardless of what Ferrari throw at him, Hamilton remains confident that he can again challenge for victory at the temporary street circuit and thereby consolidate his championship lead.
“It would be great to go back there and do the same, and that is what we are working hard to achieve,” he says. We have good momentum right now and we are pushing to keep that going and to keep developing.”
“The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of my favourite tracks and following my debut win there last year it is a very special place for me. It would be great to go back there and do the same, and that is what we are working hard to achieve.”
The Briton currently has a three point lead over Kimi Raikkonen who threw the championship wide open when he ran into the back of Adrian Sutil in Monaco, ruining both his own race, as well as the German’s.