Lewis Hamilton was the favourite to clinch pole position at the Canadian GP about three days ago largely because of his rich vein of form in Montreal for the past 7 years. And with the scheduled Mercedes upgrade it seemed like it could be a walk in the park for Hamilton during the weekend.
But with Mercedes announcing a delay in their scheduled upgrade, Hamilton seemed a bit iffy going into what is probably his favourite grand prix.
Free Practice suggested that Mercedes were competitive but not invincible and Hamilton seemed to be out of his comfort zone.
And in the end the result didn’t quite go in Hamilton’s favour, as he ended up qualifying in P4, behind Vettel, Bottas and Verstappen.
The final sector has always been Hamilton’s strength in Canada, as he is able to press a little more than others and rise to the top.
However, that is where Hamilton faltered yesterday and admitted that he was a little off pace in the final sector.
“It was good yesterday [Friday], the car balance was great into Turn 10,” he said.
“Usually the last sector is actually my strongest at this track but I was just struggling massively on the bumps into Turn 10.
“Yesterday I think we had a couple of small lock-ups but not a lot. As you continue to push the set-up, there are areas that can be affected.
“So constantly today going into that corner I was struggling to get the car stopped, be it front locking, or rear locking. So it was quite messy.
“I need to look into it to see exactly what it is – there was a good chunk of time there. Definitely just in that corner alone was pole position for sure, if I figured out how to fix it.” he added.
Also, Hamilton conceded that getting very few hypersofts to Canada could be a huge mistake as they did not have much time to practice with those hypersofts before qualifying.
“I think we will look back on this weekend and accept it as a fact that in hindsight it would have been nice if we had more time to prepare on the hypersoft, but it wasn’t the case.
“From the test we had in Abu Dhabi, that is kind of what led us to the decisions we made – and we stuck with those.
“We did the best we could with it but it was a combination of things.
“In qualifying we knew it was going to be very close as it was, but in my heart I truly feel we had the pace to lock out the front row, or at least I had the pace to be on the front row.
“But I struggled in the session and wasn’t able to pull it through.” Hamilton said.
Toto Wolff however refused to believe that not getting enough time with the hypersofts was the major reason for Hamilton not getting pole position. He did although acknowledge the fact that not getting more hypersofts did contribute to what transpired on the track.
“The fact is, this is a championship that is going to be won or lost with the tiniest of margins.
“Certainly, not having given the drivers enough track time on the hyper, is something that, if we could have changed it on the weekend, we would have changed it.
“We have just started driving on the hyper today [Saturday]. Was that the decisive factor? Probably not. There are many factors.
“I am personally of the opinion that if we can optimise on one set of tyre that is eventually going to be the tyre for qualifying that will give you an advantage, whatever it is.” Wolff said.