Lewis Hamilton's spirits dampened again in Montreal

Last year's winner still seeks solution to excessive tyre wear caused by high brake temperatures

montreal

For a man who came here seeking to regain his team's confidence in his ability, Lewis Hamilton did not seem happy despite running Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel close for pole position yesterday.

In a wet but drying qualifying session, he looked like the only man who was going to improve after drizzle in the final sector slowed drivers on their second runs. Heading into the final corner he was "six to seven tenths" of a second up on Vettel, who had made mistakes that prevented him improving on his first-run lap of 1min 25.425sec. But Hamilton just couldn't get his Mercedes turned into the left-hander at the end of the back straight, and Vettel could breathe again.

"All I needed was to keep a tenth or so, so it was a bit unfortunate," Hamilton said, looking as glum as he had in the bad old days back in Korea in 2011 during his personal crisis. He said he was "still happy to be P2," but didn't look it. It echoed his mood earlier in the weekend, when he had told reporters who picked up on it: "I don't have a downbeat nature. I'm just here to do a job. I don't need to be walking around all happy and delighted. I'm just focused."

This could be something of a watershed race for the two Mercedes drivers. Against expectations, Hamilton has been overshadowed by his team-mate Nico Rosberg in both qualifying and races, both normally Hamilton's fortes. The problem lies in differences in their cars' braking systems.

Hamilton has always been a big fan of Carbon Industrie's carbon brake pads and discs, and used them last year at McLaren in preference to their regular supplier Brembo's wares. Mercedes use CI components but Hamilton has struggled to generate the same feel with them that he had at McLaren.

All of the cars' brakes transfer heat to the wheels and tyres but CI's brakes and pads get hotter faster and the huge heat soak into the wheel and thus into the tyre is thought to be a factor in Mercedes' – specifically Hamilton's – tyre wear problems during races. "This track is all about late braking, and I've always been the latest of brakers, which is why I've been successful here," he said. "But so far I've not been a very late braker this year."

To his relief here he found that changes to small things such as master cylinders and pedal leverage had improved the Mercedes' feel under the heavy retardation necessary from speeds over 300kmh for the first corner and the hairpin, and as far as the driving is concerned has looked good all weekend.

Meanwhile his fellow Briton Jenson Button struggled with gearbox and handling problems on his McLaren to qualify only 14th and Paul di Resta, an excellent fastest on Friday morning for Force India, slumped catastrophically to 17th yesterday.

Hamilton has won on the three occasions that he has finished here, taking his maiden grand prix victory in crushing style in 2007 when he blew away his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, and repeating in 2010 and 2012. But more than that, on his five visits he had never been outqualified by a team-mate. Just to add spice to the situation, Rosberg had never lost out to a partner in his six visits. Until now. Rosberg was fourth yesterday. Self-respect has been at stake.

"Pole was certainly there," Hamilton admitted, "but that's the way it goes. It didn't all go according to the plan. I'm told it's going to be dry for tomorrow, with rain before and after the race, but it could be very tricky." If it's wet, however, that could helpfully cool his Mercedes' hot wheels.

The Anglo-German team continue to race under the shadow of an upcoming FIA International Tribunal which will be convened on 20 June to determine whether they and Pirelli breached sporting regulations by testing in Barcelona recently. Team principal Ross Brawn said on Friday that it was his decision to do that, and admitted that life is presently uncomfortable. "Let's see what happens at tribunal and we'll go from there," he said. "I wouldn't say it is pleasant at the moment but I am comfortable and confident that the facts will become apparent and people can make a better judgement."

If Mercedes lose they could face a fine, deduction of constructors' points or exclusion from races or even the championship. And with McLaren's former technical director Paddy Lowe now officially working with the Brackley team, Brawn might even find his own position under threat.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?