LONDON- Michael Schumacher has won seven Formula One world championships, seven Canadian Grands Prix and has the number seven on his Mercedes.
If it all falls into place for him in Montreal on Sunday, the 43-year-old German could also find himself in seventh heaven as the unprecedented seventh different winner in seven races so far this season.
Schumacher is a long shot, given that he has just two points to his credit and has not stood on the grand prix podium since he ended three years of retirement in 2010, but not as much as some might suspect.
He showed a flash of his former brilliance in Monaco two weeks ago, his car is now a proven winner and he looked on course for a podium in Canada last year before having to settle for fourth.
The former Ferrari great would have been on pole in Monaco had he not picked up a five-place grid penalty at the previous race in Spain, and that performance provided a timely boost.
“The race in Montreal is usually action-packed, like we saw last year. The characteristics of the circuit should suit us, and we are counting on our car performing well there,” said Schumacher.
“A trip to Montreal is always worth it and let’s hope we can make our trip this year especially worthwhile.”
Another qualifying performance like Monaco would hand Schumacher another seven – his seventh Montreal pole – but the first step is to make sure the car is reliable.
Schumacher is a distant 18th in the standings while Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso leads on 76 points with Red Bull’s double champion Sebastian Vettel and Australian Mark Webber both tied on 73.
His own team mate Nico Rosberg, a winner in China in April, has 59 points.
“Michael has suffered several technical problems and our priority is to give him a problem-free weekend in Montreal,” said Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug in a preview for the race.
“As his fastest qualifying time in Monaco demonstrated, Michael has the speed to compete at the front.”
While the season has been one of the most unpredictable, Montreal also has fame as a circuit that throws up surprises.
Last year’s rain-hit race was the longest ever, ending after more than four hours, and Schumacher has plenty of rivals with experience of winning there.
On paper, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton looks one of the strongest prospects at a circuit that gave him his first victory in 2007.
The Briton is a past master of Montreal, on pole three times in four visits to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and winner there twice, and has his eyes on McLaren’s 150th pole – something the 2008 world champion was denied in Spain due to a fuel error.
“This is turning into a unique season,” Hamilton said before heading across the Atlantic for what will be the first of two North American rounds this year with a new race scheduled for Austin, Texas, in November.
“Even though everything hasn’t gone right for us, I’m confident that myself and the team are doing everything we can to ensure we’re in the best possible position to challenge for victory.
“I know that the results we all want will soon come to us.”
Hamilton’s team mate Jenson Button took an epic win in Canada last year after charging through from the back of the field after a re-start and is hungry to end a run of poor results.
Alonso and Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen, who could equally be the seventh different winner, have also triumphed at the island track in the St Lawrence seaway.