Canadian GP: Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton ready for close fight
Vettel and Hamilton on front row for first time in F1 2019; Watch Canadian GP at 7.10pm on Sky Sports F1, build-up from 5.30pm
By James Galloway in Montreal
Last Updated: 09/06/19 6:05pm
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel believe all the ingredients are in place for a closely-fought battle for victory in Sunday evening's Canadian GP.
F1's biggest two names start on the front row together for the first time in seven races this season, with Vettel returning to the head of an F1 grid after an 11-month absence from pole.
Despite missing out on pole to his Ferrari rival, Hamilton was upbeat after qualifying and insisted Mercedes were "still in a strong position" as they attempt to maintain their unbeaten start to the season when the lights go out at 7.10pm.
"I'm always up for a fight," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
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"It is really, really great to be as close as we are. Hopefully we'll have a good race."
Hamilton added: "I think this is great for racing anyway. I think this is what we and what the fans want, to see us so close.
"If you look at the top 15 or something there was around a second between us all. That's really great to see. Everyone's so close at this track and hopefully that provides good racing."
Vettel's position at the head of the grid represents at least a temporary return to form for Ferrari, whose low-drag car had been expected to suit the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve's fast straights.
But, despite some clear advantages over Mercedes, Vettel insists Ferrari will require perfection across the 70 laps to beat the world champions.
"It will be a very, very close battle. We know our strengths, we know our weaknesses," said the German driver.
"Obviously we are very quick down the straights, let's assume not so easy to pass, but we will see.
"It's a long race, we know that in terms of pace it will be very, very close and we need a perfect race to fight for the win."
A test of endurance
By completing Q2 on the medium tyres, both Mercedes and Ferrari are able to avoid the brittle soft tyres on Sunday.
Yet that does not mean that attempting the usual Montreal one-stop strategy on the two harder compounds will be plain sailing amid 50-degree track temperatures.
"Whatever opportunity comes we will try to capitalise on it but, yeah, the race is very long, probably a one-stop, so looking after the tyres is going to be really key," added Hamilton.
"It's very hard to follow here, even though there's mainly straights. They are very quick on the straights so I don't know how following Seb is going to be If I'm in that position, but I just hope that we are able to be close and have a real race throughout the race."
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