Favourite Hamilton upbeat about closing gap

A fan seeking Mercedes Formula One world champion driver Lewis Hamilton's autograph as he arrives at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal.
A fan seeking Mercedes Formula One world champion driver Lewis Hamilton's autograph as he arrives at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

MONTREAL • Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow's Canadian Grand Prix as favourite for another win but Formula One's triple world champion remains wary of potential potholes ahead.

The Mercedes driver has won four times at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, including from pole last year, while team-mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg has never tasted victory in Montreal.

Hamilton's first win of the campaign in Monaco two weeks ago ended a barren run marked by bad luck and closed the gap between him and the German to 24 points.

Another victory for the Briton, and a blank for his team-mate, would see him riding a wave to the top of the standings.

"This has been a naturally good track for me so hopefully I should be able to capitalise on that," Hamilton told reporters on Thursday.

"I feel positive coming here but I am conscious (of) how the season has gone so far. I am not arriving all excited thinking everything is going great again just because we have had one win.

"There are potholes we could easily manoeuvre but I'm equally conscious we could fall down them."

Hamilton admitted that his head was "banging" after celebrating a much-needed win in Monaco.

"I arrived at the last race 43 points behind and I arrive now 24 behind so it just shows the goal posts are moving all the time," added the 31-year-old.

After opening the year with four wins in a row, Rosberg has not been on the podium for the past two races and finished seventh in Monaco.

"You are always going to have those races. For me it is already a thing of the past," he said. "I am feeling great and I know if I get things right, I can go for the win here."

Meanwhile, the global commercial partnership between F1 and Heineken has been confirmed and will begin in Canada this weekend.

The deal is for five years and is set to conclude at the end of the 2020 season. The Dutch brewer declined to discuss how much it had paid although £100 million (S$195.5 million) has been reported.

The senior director of Heineken's global brand, Gianluca di Tondo, said: "We want new consumers and F1 wants new spectators and we believe we can work together to reach this goal.

"We believe we can reach out to 200 million people on top of the audience we already reach with our current platforms."

He also said that F1 could be on a par with, if not bigger than, European football's Champions League.

"We are aiming to replicate the success we had with the Champions League, there are synergies between the two platforms. We have learnt so much from that (experience) that we will bring to F1."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

CANADIAN GP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Favourite Hamilton upbeat about closing gap'. Print Edition | Subscribe