Lewis Hamilton equalled his best result of the 2023 season so far by finishing second behind Max Verstappen at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, while George Russell staged an impressive comeback to complete the podium in third. 

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It marked Mercedes’ first double podium of the season and came a week after the team debuted a major upgrade package, including new sidepods, in Monaco. 

Despite a much-improved performance in Spain, Mercedes remain cagey about their competitiveness and are wary about judging the impact of their updates too soon. 

“The fact is that the update kit works very well around circuits like Barcelona with a lot of high-speed performance,” trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said in Mercedes’ post-race debrief video. 

“Although, the car itself would have still been okay there because we've been better at the fast circuits and the front-limited tracks. 

“We ended up with a really good balance and really good race pace. Now, where we are going to go next week, Montreal, it's a very different circuit. 

“There are more low-speed corners, quite a lot of straight-line full throttle and we would expect more of a challenge there. 

“We are not thinking that we are going in nipping at the heels of Red Bull. We are going in there prepared for a battle with Ferrari, Aston Martin, and maybe even Alpine.”

Mercedes are braced for a “bigger challenge” at Montreal and expect to be in a similar situation as they were in the races prior to Barcelona. 

“We are thinking it will be more along the lines of some of the earlier races where we were definitely in the bunch with Ferrari, with Aston, and now Alpine look to have joined that group,” Shovlin added. 

“It will be good fun and we are certainly going to be fighting to find every little bit of performance we can because the way the grid stacks up now you can be P2 or you can be P10, and there are only a few tenths in it. 

“We are looking forward to more exciting racing but certainly we are aware that Canada is likely to be a bigger challenge than the Sunday we just had in Barcelona.”