Can F1's streak of different winners remain alive in Canada?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The 2012 Formula One season continues to be a thrilling one, as six different drivers have won in as many grand prix.
So the biggest question heading into this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal is simply this. Will the streak of different winners this season reach seven?
Jenson Button (Australia), Fernando Alonso (Malaysia), Nico Rosberg (China), Sebastian Vettel (Bahrain), Pastor Maldonado (Spain) and Mark Webber (Monaco) are those drivers who have won so far this year. Red Bull, with drivers Vettel and Webber, is the only constructor with multiple victories.
Based on his previous performances in Canada, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton could keep the streak alive. Hamilton has started on the pole twice but has yet to win this season. He finished third in the first three grand prix.
Hamilton won qualifying for last month's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, but he was stripped of his pole position and had to start the event from the rear of the field due to a fuel violation. He finished eighth in the Spanish GP.
"This is turning into a unique season, one where every race provides new challenges and different outcomes," Hamilton said. "Even though everything hasn't gone right for us, I'm confident that myself and the team are doing everything we can to ensure we're in the best possible position to challenge for victory each and every weekend."
Hamilton has won two of the last four grand prix in Canada. His first career F1 victory came in the Canadian GP during his 2007 rookie season. F1 did not compete in that nation in 2009.
Right now, Alonso holds the lead in the championship standings. The Ferrari driver has accumulated 76 points, which is three more than Vettel and Webber. Hamilton is 13 points out of the lead.
"We are still very much in the hunt for this world championship, and I'm looking forward to bringing that fight to Montreal, which is one of my favorite races of the season," Hamilton said.
Button won last year's soggy but dramatic Canadian GP. He dealt with torrential rain conditions, overcame contact with Hamilton in the early going and then bounced back from a penalty for speeding behind the safety car before making a last-lap pass on Vettel to win the race.
Vettel appeared to be on the way to his sixth victory of the 2011 season, but Vettel locked up the rear and slid wide on the final lap, allowing Button to dart by and take the lead for good.
"Returning to Montreal will be an extremely proud and happy moment for me," Button said. "My win there last year was one of those rare occasions when everything just came right. It's still hard to believe that I was running in last place past half-distance and yet still managed to come through and take victory on the final lap. The memories of that win will always be with me."
Button is currently 21 points behind Alonso. He has failed to advance into the final round of qualifying (Q3) in the last two grand prix.
"This weekend, it's going to be important to get a handle on the car in qualifying," he said. "At the last two races, Q2 hasn't gone my way, so no matter what pace you have in the race, you're still compromised on Sunday afternoon, particularly as the pack is so tightly bunched at the moment. My aim for the weekend will be to have a stronger qualifying performance and to be able to build on that in the race."
Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is considered as one of the most unique road courses on the F1 calendar. The long straightaways on the 2.709-mile (4.361-kilometer) course make for high-speed racing, but the its low-speed chicanes create wear and tear on the braking system.
Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, June 10. Race: Canadian Grand Prix. Site: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Track: 4.361 km (2.709) miles) 14-turn road course. Start Time: 2 p.m. (et). Laps: 70. Miles: 189.694 (305.270 km). 2011 Winner: Jenson Button. Television: FOX.