Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton enters this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix confident he is “as strong as I’ve ever been”.

The triple word champion ended an eight-race win drought last time out in Monaco after his title defence got off to shaky start amid reliability woes, sluggish getaways and first-lap collisions.

Hamilton’s series of problems led some fans to criticise his crew of mechanics and accuse Mercedes of favouritism towards team-mate Nico Rosberg after it had swapped several members from one car to the other ahead of the current campaign.

“I still can’t quite believe I’ve got my 44th Formula One win,” said Hamilton, who picked #44 as his permanent race number two years ago. “It’s taken so much hard work from so many people throughout my career to reach this point – way too many to name – and it’s a very special landmark for me and my family.

“I have to say how grateful I am to my mechanics for sticking at it and sticking with me after what’s not been an easy start this year. It felt great to be back on the top step after a tough run and hopefully it was a big confidence boost for them too, because they’ve been doing a great job all season.”

Hamilton heads to Montreal 24 points adrift of Rosberg, having taken 19 out of his rival’s championship lead in Monaco. However, the Briton says his scruffy opening third to the season serves as a reminder that the momentum can shift quickly in the title race.

“There’s a long way to go yet. We’ve seen from these opening six races that anything’s possible and these swings inevitably go both ways. We are the greatest team – but we have more pressure from our rivals than ever before, so it’s important we keep pulling together and refining any weak areas.

“I’ve proven that I’m just as strong as I’ve ever been and I will be for the rest of the year, so I’m looking forward to the next chapter. Montreal has always been a good track for me, so hopefully I’m able to shine like I did the first time I went there in that great city atmosphere.”

Hamilton took his first ever F1 victory as a rookie at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix.

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