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Mercedes' Rosberg looks to carry Monaco win into Canada

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The Canadian Press
6/6/2013 6:01:26 PM
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MONTREAL -- Nico Rosberg is the one a roll, but it's Mercedes AGM teammate Lewis Hamilton who may have the upper hand at the always unpredictable Canadian Grand Prix.

The son of 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg has won the pole position at the last three races on the Formula One calendar and is coming off a victory at the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago.

But the quick and difficult Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve has become Hamilton's track, having won there three times in his career, including last year.

"I enjoy this track and I'm confident coming here," Rosberg said Thursday. "Qualifying will be exciting and important.

"Maybe a little less important (than at Monaco) because you can overtake, and tire degradation is going to be an issue, so there's going to be a lot happening in the race. But, as at all tracks, it's always a big challenge to try to be ahead of Lewis in qualifying because he's very quick."

And he likes his chances to claim a fourth straight pole.

"Our car has been the quickest in qualifying for quite some time now," he said. "We just have a very fast car.

"I'm confident I'll be quite far up the grid in qualifying here."

Hamilton jumped from McLaren Mercedes to Mercedes AGM this year and has yet to win in six races this season, although he has been in the top-5 five times.

Sebastian Vettel leads the drivers' championship and is on course for a fourth straight F1 title, but the Red Bull cars have been less dominant this year against Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus, Fernando Alonso's Ferrari and the Mercedes.

And Vettel has yet to win the Canadian Grand Prix, although he was second to Jenson Button in 2011 and fourth in 2010 and 2012. The McLaren team has won the last three times.

The 4.361-kilometre track is especially punishing on brakes with its long straightaways leading to tight turns, including a hairpin.

It is also tough on tires, an issue that has Mercedes in the midst of controversy.

The team has been called to a hearing with the international tribunal of FIA, the sport's governing body, to answer questions about a possibly illegal tire test after the Spanish Grand Prix last month. If found in violation of rules barring unauthorized in-season testing the team could be fined or even banned from the constructors championship.

The Red Bull and Ferrari teams complained that Mercedes gained an unfair advantage by running 1,000 kilometres over three days on a new, more durable tire that Pirelli will introduce this week.

Teams were concerned with tires breaking down during races, so Pirelli came up with a stronger version. It will be available for use only during practice on Friday at the Canadian race but is expected to be in full use for the British Grand Prix on June 30.

Rain is forecast for Friday, which would restrict use of the new tires, and for qualifying on Saturday. Skies are expected to clear up for the race on Sunday.

Vettel blasted Mercedes in the German media this week, saying "every kilometre (of testing) is an advantage."

Also at issue was that Mercedes used their 2013 car. Some tests by Ferrari in their 2011 car this year were allowed.

And they used their F1 starters, rather than reserve driver Sam Bird.

"That was what the team decided," said Rosberg. "I think also for Pirelli it's better if we're in the car because Sam doesn't drive much and for sure he won't be able to go on our pace and bring the Pirellis through the laps exactly as we would."

The Mercedes team issued a statement this week saying it "welcomes the opportunity to explain the full facts" of the tests to the tribunal.

Nico Rosberg (Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
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