A happy, if not confident, Lewis Hamilton returned to the place where it all began on Thursday, a decade after claiming his first Formula One victory in the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix.
Speaking at a routine pre-race news conference ahead of the 50th running of the popular North American event, he revealed a flash of deeply-held emotion when he recalled seeing his father in the crowd below the podium 10 years previously.
“It was the most amazing experience,” said Hamilton, who claimed his maiden victory in his sixth outing. “I was on the podium and I looked down and I could see my dad and I could see one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen in my life on his face.”
This weekend, he seeks to claim his sixth victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to add to those of 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016, but conceded that rivals Ferrari, and not his defending champions team Mercedes, are the favourites.
“We have seen, obviously, that Ferrari are the quickest at the moment, so they’re the favourites,” he said. “But we’re working very hard to rectify the issues we had at the last race and we hope that we can attack again this weekend.
“They’ve got some unique bits on the car that I think will work well for them this weekend, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take the fight to them.”
He added that he had been to the Mercedes factory for a de-briefing following the team’s disappointing showing at the Monaco Grand Prix, won by four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel for Ferrari, but without finding a solution to their problems with tyre performance.
“We’ve definitely done some analysis, but we’ll find out whether or not there are things we can improve on this weekend,” he said.
“You push, or you drive slow, depending on the temperature, and when it comes to doing your laps, sometimes they’re ready, or not – it’s difficult. It’s a kind of numb feeling.”
Vettel leads the title race with 129 points after three wins in six races ahead of Hamilton on 124, having won twice.