LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton wants Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix to be a re-run of last year’s race but Robert Kubica is hoping for something very different.
The two drivers left their mark on the 2007 race, with McLaren’s Hamilton taking his breakthrough first grand prix win in Montreal while BMW Sauber’s Kubica suffered the biggest crash of his career.
They return to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with 23-year-old Hamilton leading the championship after last month’s Monaco win but with only six points separating him from the fourth-placed Pole.
In between are the Ferrari duo of world champion Kimi Raikkonen, three points behind the Briton and one ahead of Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa.
Hamilton has the momentum and Montreal, like Monaco, is a special track for the youngster who returns as an even more feted driver than the sensational rookie of a year ago.
”Last year in Canada was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, to take my maiden pole and victory in Formula One was incredible,“ said Hamilton in a team preview. ”It would be great to go back there and do the same.
“Since then I’ve matured a lot. I think I have grown stronger as a driver and have become closer to the team.”
Hamilton has also put flesh on the bones of his promise, with six wins, 16 podium finishes and seven pole positions from his 23 starts so far.
Kubica has also grown stronger, taking two second places and a third already this year as well as BMW Sauber’s first pole position.
His team have set winning a race for the first time as their priority for the year and, while Ferrari and McLaren are still the favorites, Canada would be a fitting place for Kubica to make the breakthrough.
“Montreal is one of my favorite tracks,” said the Pole, who escaped unhurt from a crash which would have probably proved fatal a decade earlier.
“I like the track because there is a lot of heavy braking and stop-and-go.”
Hamilton will also have to watch out for his Finnish team mate Heikki Kovalainen, still looking for his first win after a run of bad luck, and the Ferraris.
“The last few races have been pretty difficult for one reason or another but all the time we know the car is quick and now I am hoping to be able to demonstrate that,” Kovalainen said.
Hamilton’s win in Monaco, a victory he described as a career highlight, ended Ferrari’s run of four triumphs in succession.
Montreal, a track named after the late Ferrari great Gilles Villeneuve and which has witnessed 11 wins for the team over the years, could play to their strengths.
”Nothing has been won and nothing has been lost,“ Raikkonen said on the Ferrari Web site (www.ferrariworld.com) after Monaco. ”There is no point in panicking after the race at Monaco because compared to last year the situation is much better.
“I won’t change anything in my approach for the weekend,” added the Finn, a winner in Canada with McLaren in 2005.
Editing by Derek Parr