McLaren buoyed by return to Canada

The return of Formula One to Canada has provided Britain`s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button with the perfect stage to continue their pursuit of world championship leader Mark Webber and his feuding Red Bull team.

Updated: Jun 10, 2010, 08:45 AM IST

Montreal: The return of Formula One to Canada has provided Britain`s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button with the perfect stage to continue their pursuit of world championship leader Mark Webber and his feuding Red Bull team.

Hamilton and Button were gifted a one-two finish for McLaren in the last round in Turkey after Red Bull blew their chances when Webber and Vettel collided with each other, triggering a war of words between the pair over who was at fault.
Vettel was forced to retire from the race while Webber was able to salvage third place after limping back to the pits for some running repairs although the real damage came after the race.

Red Bull team officials initially sided with Vettel, prompting accusations they were favouring the young German ahead of the experienced Australian, but later admitted they were wrong to attribute any blame.

"There were a few opinions that were voiced without all the facts available," Team principal Christian Horner said.

"Emotions are running high, one or two comments were made without all the facts to hand."

"In the cold light of day it was a racing accident, nothing more, nothing less."

While Webber and Vettel have not exactly kissed and made up, with both declaring they would "go to their graves with differences of opinions", Red Bull have tried to resolve their problems.
Webber this week agreed to an extended one-year deal with the team while Horner vowed both drivers would be given a free rein to race each without any instructions on overtaking.

"They will be racing each other; the most important thing is they respect they are driving for a team and I believe they do," Horner said.

The combination of Red Bull`s public squabblings and the unique characteristics of the fast Montreal track have left the two McLaren drivers brimming with confidence ahead of this weekend, the eighth round of the 19-race championship.

The Canadian Grand Prix was scrapped from the 2009 race calendar because of financial problems and few drivers are more excited to be returning than Hamilton, who is back in form after claiming his first win this season in Turkey.

"I won my first Grand Prix in Montreal (2007)," said Hamilton, who went on to win the world title in 2008.

"Returning for 2010 is great, because it`s such a fast, demanding and unforgiving circuit. I love racing here."

Button, last year`s champion, is also excited about the prospect of returning to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, on the man-made island of Ile Notre-Dame, although his lone podium finish was a third in 2004.

Button finished runner-up to Hamilton in Istanbul but is currently ahead of him in second place in the standings, just five points behind Webber, after winning in Australia and China.

The British pair were engaged in their own scrap in Turkey and briefly touched in the closing laps, but there was no damage to either car and both safely made it to the end.

"It`s very fitting that we`re heading back, particularly during one of the best seasons we`ve had for years," Button said.

"I think this year`s race has all the ingredients for a classic."

While Red Bull and McLaren have dominated the early part of this season and again look set to fight out this weekend`s race, Michael Schumacher is also eyeing a return to one his favourite tracks.

The German won the Canadian Grand Prix seven times at his peak but faces a tough challenge with his new Mercedes team to add to his incredible record this weekend.

"The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is all about top speed so we have worked very hard on this, especially as we know that we are not right at the top in that area," Schumacher said.

"However I am convinced that we will be able to get the best out of our package."

Bureau Report