F1 leader Hamilton wants to forget Monaco, focus on Canadian Grand Prix

MONTREAL — Lewis Hamilton doesn’t want to talk about Monaco any more.

The reigning Formula One driving champion said he has put the team mistake that cost him almost certain victory at the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago behind him. He wants to concentrate fully on the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

“I don’t look back, I’m looking forward,” Hamilton said Thursday. “I haven’t thought about the last race for a long time.

“I’m just thinking about the next race. I put my mind to other things, training and trying to come back strong this weekend. So it’s really irrelevant what happened in the past. There’s nothing you can do about it, so there’s no point in dwelling on it.”

Racing starts Friday with two practice sessions followed by qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday afternoon.

The Mercedes AMG team took the blame for calling Hamilton in for a tire change with the safety car on the track. The move left him third and handed the win to teammate Nico Rosberg, cutting Hamilton’s lead over the German in the drivers standings to only 10 points.

Hamilton was visibly upset after losing F1’s most famous race, but said the issue has been settled and he still has confidence in team management. 

“Things are good with the team. I decided to move on,” he said.

The Canadian Grand Prix finds Mercedes AMG on top of the F1 world again, but looking to rebound from a disaster last year in Montreal when both cars had a mechanical failure early on that cost them their power advantage.

Hamilton retired on Lap 48 of the 70-lap event, while Rosberg did all he could to stay in front until the next to last lap, when he was passed by Daniel Riccardi’s Red Bull as the Australian cruised in for his first F1 victory. The race ended behind a safety car following a late collision between Sergio Perez and Felipe Massa.

The Red Bulls, still seeking to rediscover the magic that saw them take four straight titles with driver Sebastian Vettel from 2009 to 2013, have slipped to fourth this season. Ferrari, with Vettel and veteran Kimi Raikkonen, is now Mercedes AMG’s new rival, with Williams drivers Massa and Valtteri Bottas just behind.

Ferrari has improvements to its package this week and hopes to post its second win of the campaign after the Malaysian Grand Prix on March 29.

Ricciardi has no illusions about defending his title in a car that has not kept pace, but hopes to finish in the points and perhaps even get into the top three.

“It’s very cool to be back here,” said Ricciardi. “This year it will take even more of an effort than last year to get that same success, but Montreal’s always had a lot of style. The race never disappoints.”

The 4,361-kilometre Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is hard on brakes and engines, and the tight turns after fast straights have caused their share of mishaps. Most years, the safety car is out on the track at least once.

It will be a test for 17-year-old Toro Rossi rookie Max Verstappen, who will be penalized five grid positions after he was found responsible for the crash with Romain Grosjean’s Lotus that brought out the safety car in Monaco.

Massa criticized Verstappen for dangerous driving, but the Dutch teenager shrugged it off.  

“It will not change me as a racing driver,” he said. “I will still go for it.”

He also took a shot at Massa, saying “I’m focusing on Canada now maybe you should review the race from last year and see what happened there.”

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press