F1: Mercedes brings their title hopes and drama to Montreal

The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal will host the F1 Canadian Grand Prix Sunday
The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal will host the F1 Canadian Grand Prix Sunday

Formula One comes to one of the most international cities in North America this weekend. The Canadian Grand Prix, will take place on Sunday afternoon, in the beautiful city on Montreal, on the outstanding Gilles Villeneuve Circuit.

The race will air at 2 pm ET Sunday afternoon on NBC Sports Network.

They will claim, in both languages, that local legend Gilles Villeneuve was the best racer of them all. They will certainly not get an argument from Niki Lauda, the Mercedes non-executive chairman, who says: “Gilles was a perfect racing driver, with the best talent of all of us. He was the best – and the fastest – driver in the world.”

But the drama in Formula One seems to be centered in Team Mercedes and their two outstanding drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who have made this season a great one for the team but a wild one between the two.

The breakdown in the relationship between the two at the last race, in Monaco two weekends ago, is still the biggest talking point in Formula One and the narrative is likely to remain the same for the remainder of this Silver Arrows dominated season.

Half the people in the paddock here feel that Rosberg deliberately sabotaged Hamilton’s bid for pole on the eve of the Monaco race; in the podium celebrations that followed Hamilton did not speak to Rosberg and celebrated his second place well away from his German rival.

In the mind games the more emotional Hamilton has been the aggressor, with Rosberg playing a more passive role. But on Friday there was more than a hint of mea culpa from the British driver, an admission that he could have behaved better in the strained circumstances.

While Hamilton admitted to the media this week during a press briefing on Friday that he wear’s his heart on his sleeve. His teammate, Rosberg, in character, is presented to the same media gathering a more detached air. “I want to try to avoid giving things that unnecessarily heat the moment even more,” he said. “You’re trying to build it into a war, which I can understand because it makes it more exciting. I want to avoid adding unnecessary fuel.

“I don’t want to compare myself to him. I can say in general I try to err towards the rational side but it is sometimes difficult in this sport and in the heat of the moment.”

Though there was much sympathy for Hamilton in Monaco, where he lost the race and his lead in the world championship, there is also a feeling that he has been at fault. The Formula One analyst Gary Anderson said after the last race: “From what I’ve seen and heard Hamilton was the one that started throwing stones. His statement about being hungrier for success than Rosberg was actually a little sad. He talked about living on his dad’s settee while Nico was living it up in Monaco. Give me a break. His dad gave him everything he could and Lewis first got involved – on merit – with McLaren when he was 13. How many drivers of potential world championship calibre never got to show what they were capable of because they never had such an opportunity?”

Mercedes, meanwhile, look on a little nervously. The Motorsport chief, Toto Wolff, said in Monaco: “We are leaving their racing as their responsibility. But we must decide whether we have to step in and recalibrate our strategy in letting them race and how they race each other.”

Hamilton won at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007 – his first GP victory – and again in 2010 and 2012. One thing is certain then: he will take some beating here, especially after what happened a fortnight ago.

“This is a circuit that I know Lewis loves,” said his former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button. “There are two circuits that stand out for Lewis, circuits where he is pretty much unbeatable, and they are here and Abu Dhabi.

“I think Lewis is going to be very tough to beat here. But if Nico does win, it will really help his confidence.”

It would also damage Hamilton’s and possibly the fragile peace that has broken out between these two intense rivals.

Statistics for Sunday’s Canadian Formula One Grand Prix in Montreal, race seven of the championship:

Lap distance: 4.361 km

Total distance: 305.270 km (70 laps)

Start time: 2 p.m.

2013 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Red Bull, one minute 25.425 seconds.

2013 winner: Vettel

Race lap record: Rubens Barrichello (Brazil), 1:13.622. Ferrari, 2004.