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Hamilton calls Canadian GP one of F1’s ‘exceptional’ races

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Lewis Hamilton has called the Canadian Grand Prix is one of Formula 1’s “exceptional” races ahead of his bid for a sixth victory in Montreal on Sunday.

Hamilton took his very first F1 win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve back in 2007, and has since claimed a further four races, putting him second on the victory list in Canada behind Michael Schumacher (seven wins).

“Obviously having the amazing experience I had in 2007, I remember standing on the podium and looking down at my Dad and just seeing the biggest smile I’d ever seen in my life on his face, which was a very proud moment,” Hamilton reminisced.

“And then just since then, I think every year I’ve come I’ve just grown a lot I think with Canada and Montreal, and the following has grown along the time as well in 10 years. So the love I come and receive when I get here is spectacular, and you definitely feel the energy.

“Here’s a great race, the weather’s generally pretty good. The circuit’s incredible and unique to its own. The city’s one of the greatest cities. I’ve not been here when it’s not been a grand prix, but during the grand prix, there’s a huge buzz here.

“I love being here. I try and get here a bit earlier because the food’s great, the people are great, and I generally get left alone so it’s a good weekend.”

Canada is celebrating 50 years of F1 this weekend, and Hamilton believes it holds a place among the very best races on the sport’s calendar.

“Formula 1 is obviously made up of a lot of great countries, a lot of great races,” Hamilton said.

“But there are the exceptional races, and there are only a few of them, and this is race is in that few.”

Looking ahead to the coming weekend, Hamilton said that he felt Mercedes is on the back foot in the fight with the rival Ferrari team, having slipped to 25 points behind Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship last time out in Monaco.

“I think Toto [Wolff, Mercedes F1 boss] mentioned that he thinks that Ferrari [is quickest], and we obviously have seen Ferrari are the quickest at the moment so they’re the favorites,” Hamilton said.

“But we’re working very hard to rectify the issues we had in the last race and hope that we can attack this weekend.

“They’ve got some unique bits on the car I think that will work well this weekend, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take the fight to them.”

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.