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Will Hamilton and Rosberg bring their rivalry to Montreal this weekend?

Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany (R) stands next to teammate Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain after Rosberg took pole position in the qualifying session of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix in Monaco May 24, 2014.

MAX ROSSI/REUTERS

On tap this week:

• Tension grows between Hamilton, Rosberg

• Schumacher is king of Canada

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• Montreal breaks brakes

• Indy 500 lessons for F1 drivers

• Quote of the Week: Ganassi motivates

• Hinchcliffe shakes bad luck

Like the Friends theme song says: No one told them life as teammates was gonna be this way.

Lewis Hamilton says he and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg are still friends.

But Rosberg doesn't think his teammate will be coming over to raid the fridge in his Monaco flat any time soon – something the German said happened many times previously when Hamilton ran out of food.

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Meanwhile, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff insists that the comparing his drivers to the acrid rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at McLaren 25 years ago scenario is off-base.

Anyone who noticed that Hamilton barely acknowledged victor Rosberg on the podium in Monaco a week ago, and then walked away before the champagne was sprayed, knows that all is not well inside the Mercedes camp.

That podium snub didn't sit well with two-time world champion Mika Häkkinen, who suggested that Hamilton needs to learn how to lose.

How the team handles the increasingly tense situation inside the Mercedes cockpits will be on full display in Montreal, where the Formula One circus arrives this week for Sunday's race.

Getting the two drivers back on speaking terms falls to team chairman and three-time world champion Niki Lauda, who admitted after Monaco that things were getting out of hand.

Lauda, who insisted that all would be back to normal – whatever that is – by Montreal, may be the perfect man for the job. He understands not having a good relationship with a teammate after spending two seasons in the mid-1980s racing alongside Prost, who he admits he hated and with whom he refused to share any information.

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Mechanical issues notwithstanding, the two Mercedes drivers will likely continue their dominance of the 2014 season at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. And that might heat up the rivalry even further.

The two evenly matched drivers in identical cars have swept all six races so far this year and finished 1-2 in every race that both have seen the chequered flag. Apart from the Monaco Grand Prix last week, no other team has even been close to challenging the Mercedes pairing.

While it's a good bet one of the Mercedes drivers will win Sunday's the Canadian Grand Prix, the race may also determine whether they leave with their relationship stuck in second gear.

By the Numbers: When it comes to wins, Michael Schumacher stood on the top step of the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix seven times, with his first triumph coming in 1994. His six poles in Canada is also record. In addition, the seven-time world champion set the mark for most consecutive wins in Montreal after taking three in a row beginning in 2002. Three-time world champion Jackie Steward (1971-1972) and 1980 titlist Alan Jones (1979-1980) are the only other drivers to take back-to-back wins in Canada.

The active driver with the most wins in Montreal is 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton with three. He is tied in second with three times world champion Nelson Piquet.

Hamilton also scored his maiden win in the 2007 race, becoming the fifth driver to take his first grand prix win in Canada. The others are: Jean Alesi (1995), Thierry Boutsen (1989), Robert Kubica (2008), and Gilles Villeneuve (1978), who is also the only Canadian to win his home grand prix.

Five drivers in the field for Sunday's race are previous winners in Montreal: Kimi Räikkönen (2005), Fernando Alonso (2006), Lewis Hamilton (2007, 2010, and 2012), Jenson Button (2011) and Sebastian Vettel (2013).

Since the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was reconfigured in 2002, Rubens Barrichello's 2004 lap of 1 minute 13.622 seconds (213.246 km/h) is the quickest around the 14-turn, 4.361 kilometre layout used for Sunday's race.

Technically Speaking: The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is known as a "stop and go" track: Basically, it's a bunch of corners slapped between a series of straights. Not only does this mean the drivers are in the brakes for a relatively high 13 per cent of the lap, but it also does not allow the brake pads and discs to cool sufficiently, which leads to heavy wear and possible failures.

According to brake component maker Brembo, Turn 13 at the end of the Casino Straight is the most demanding on the braking system at the track.

The cars slow from a maximum speed of 321 km/h to 137 km/h in 1.64 seconds in about 95 metres. Roughly 5.43 times gravity pushes the driver forward against his seatbelts as the car decelerates. In order to scrub off 184 km/h to prepare for the chicane at the end of the straight, the driver stomps on the brake pedal with a force of 130 kilograms.

Getting it right is extremely important because taking the wrong line through there can put you right into the "Wall of Champions." The concrete barrier at the exit of the chicane before the finish line got its name when F1 world champions Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve all crashed there in the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix.

In all, six of the seven braking points in Montreal have a maximum deceleration of about four times gravity or more, with only the second turn giving the drivers a break. The force on the driver there only hits 1.91Gs.

Random Thoughts: When you're racing for the win in the Indianapolis 500, it's often better to be second going into the last lap rather than leading. The strategy is simple: Bide your time behind your rival until the final lap and then use the draft to slingshot past and try to hold on for the win.

This year's winner Ryan Hunter-Reay went that exact route and robbed foe Helio Castroneves of a fourth Indy 500 win a week ago.

The question is: Was either of Mercedes' Formula One pair of drivers watching and learning something that will come in handy in Canadian Grand Prix?

With the Silver Arrows dominating every race so far this year, it's not a huge leap to think that either Hamilton or Rosberg will reign victorious in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix. And that's where the Indy 500 lesson comes in.

If quarters are tight between the two in Montreal, the win might come down to a final lap pass on the one-kilometre long Casino Straight right before the chicane that leads to the finish line.

The long Casino Straight is also a drag reduction system (DRS) zone, which means a car that's less than one second behind a rival on the run to the hairpin preceding the straight gets to flatten his rear wing and gain about 10-12 kilometres per hour in top speed.

The system makes overtaking relatively straight-forward on the long run to Turn 13 and the second DRS zone on the following sprint to the finish line makes re-passing a rival almost impossible.

It's said that patience often wins the Indianapolis 500 and the same may ring true in Montreal on Sunday.

Quote of the Week: "It was a pretty good little pep talk — I think we're calling it that now. It was just an affirmation of expectations, of what we're here to do. I think we all knew it, but sometimes it's nice for the boss to come in and tell us what we're here to do."

— IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball explaining how his owner Chip Ganassi motivated the team before the Detroit doubleheader weekend, where the squad took two podiums after having only one top-3 finish in the first five races of 2014.

The Last Word: Ask most IndyCar drivers and they'll tell you that having a doubleheader weekend on the terribly bumpy Belle Isle circuit in Detroit amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, especially a week after the Indianapolis 500.

Anyone watching the in-car shots of the drivers sawing at their steering wheels just to keep their cars straight over the washboard surfaces should get an idea of the physical drain back-to-back races in Detroit can be. In fact, cynics might say that the only reason a race even got sanctioned on such a rough and tumble track is because powerful IndyCar owner Roger Penske promotes it.

One driver who won't be complaining is James Hinchcliffe, who left Belle Isle with two top-6 finishes at a track that previously played the role of mean rattlesnake for the Oakville, Ont., native. He also qualified second on the grid for both races.

"Considering how my past races in Detroit have gone, this is hell of a good weekend — two front-row starts and two top six finishes — we'll take it," he said.

Two years ago in Detroit, Hinchcliffe ended up in the wall after a piece of tar from a breaking up track got lodged under his car. He was classified 21st.

Last year, his Saturday race was ruined by a tire that got stuck under his car and forced him to pit early. A late pitstop for a splash of fuel saw him finish 15th. The next day, he got caught up in a multi-car crash on a restart on Lap 28 and needed lengthy repairs. He ended that race in 19th.

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About the Author
Motorsports columnist

There's an old saying about timing being everything in racing and Jeff Pappone's career as a motorsport correspondent shows that it also applies to journalists covering the sport too. More

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