MONTREAL (Reuters) - An assured pole-to-flag win, without safety cars or strategy blunders, was just what Lewis Hamilton needed in Canada on Sunday -- even if relief was too strong a word.
“Did I need this? I think so. I think so,” the Formula One world champion told the crowd on the podium after his fourth win in seven races this year and the expansion of his overall lead to 17 points.
“I love Montreal. I love this track; I love the city and really just a fantastic weekend and great to get back on the top step.”
In Monaco, the previous race two weeks ago, a needless late pitstop had robbed Hamilton of victory and handed it instead to Mercedes team mate and closest title rival Nico Rosberg.
Montreal, a favourite track where the Briton had won three times before including his first victory in Formula One back in 2007, allowed him to reclaim some of the lost points and get back to where he wanted to be.
The feeling, Hamilton emphasised, was not relief, however. ”I don’t feel I needed to be relieved,“ he said. ”I was quickest all of the previous race weekend as well.
“Obviously we had the problem which enabled Nico to win the race but otherwise generally I had good pace for the last two races,” added the double world champion.
“So it’s not a relief, it just feels good to continue with good strength and it’s great that the team is continuing to be strong as well and continue to move forwards.”
Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff, who found himself in the spotlight after Monaco for what some derided as one of the biggest gaffes in recent F1 history, felt a weight had been lifted off the team’s shoulders.
“I must say that there after Monaco it was very difficult for the team to handle that sometimes,” said the Austrian.
”We were exposed to massive criticism, it looked like all the victories and the world championship was forgotten and suddenly a bunch of idiots were managing the team.
“The result is a satisfying result considering what happened in Monaco.”
Niki Lauda, the retired triple world champion who is now non-executive chairman of Mercedes F1, said the result was ‘perfect’ for Hamilton.
“He couldn’t have done a better job and that’s it. The whole strategy and whatever we had to produce here was back to normal.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Mitch Phillips.