F1`s Hamilton relishing rain in Montreal GP

Montreal: Formula One`s early risers were looking at the skies here at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Sunday and wondering if forecast rain would create even more havoc than expected in the Canadian Grand Prix.

Local weather forecasters have said there is a 60 per cent change of rain during the race with one member of the grid welcoming the prospect of a mid-race deluge.

Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, the 2008 champion, said: "I don`t mind what happens really as I love a dry race here -- and I think it would be great for the fans.

"However, I must say, it would be great for me if it was dry at the start -- and then rains halfway through..."

In the aftermath of two incident-filled days of crashes and other incidents, one factor remained constant - defending drivers` world champion Sebastian Vettel was the fastest man around and had claimed pole position for Red Bull.

It was his sixth pole this year in seven qualifying sessions and proved not only that he is the quickest of the quick, but also that he is in the best place to add to his fat 58-points lead in this year`s title race.

Behind him on the grid this time are the Ferrari pairing of two-times champion Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa with Australian Mark Webber back in fourth place in the second Red Bull.

That means that the Ferrari and Red Bull teams dominate the front two rows on a track where cars and drivers are tested to the limits - long straights, hairpins and chicanes examining engines and brakes as surely as the precision and reflexes of the men in the cockpits.

Vettel demonstrated the treacherous nature of the track on Friday when he crashed heavily at the second chicane into the so-called `wall of champions`, but he was to be followed by similar off-circuit excursions by nearly half the grid.

One man, however, who managed to stay out of trouble was Hamilton, who lies second in the drivers` championship. He may have been pleased to survive two days unhurt and undamaged, but that did not mean he was happy - instead, he was frustrated not to be driving faster.

After climbing from what he called his "slow" car on Saturday afternoon, he was quick to predict that it looked like an easy task for the 23-year-old German Vettel to retain his title.

"Vettel`s gone, he`s on his way, he`s very difficult to catch for us," he said.

Hours later, however, he was talking a different story -- rebuilding his confidence and commitment for the task ahead.

"There`s still a long way to go. We`re only a third of the way through the season. I still feel we can win the world championship somehow."

Hamilton needs to retain his fighting spirit for the sake of the championship itself as much as himself and will hope he can add a second win to his single triumph this year in China. That was the only time in six races that Vettel did not take the chequered flag first.

In mathematical terms, Hamilton needs to win two races and finish sixth in another without Vettel scoring a point for him just to draw level in the title race.

It is a tall order, but one that he believes offers him a chance.

And after winning twice previously in Canada, where he has the style to be naturally fast, he is pinning hopes on improved speed in this race and a package of rule-changes that may disadvantage Red Bull.

Hamilton said: "The great thing is the rules are changing so that might help. But the reality is he has nearly a three-race gap in terms of points.

"That doesn`t mean we can`t reel him in, but he`s had pole position at nearly every race until now which you have to assume will continue until at least we get our next upgrades or until the rules change."

Bureau report

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