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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?