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.

Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
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

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor