Valtteri Bottas believes Ferrari will maintain its straight-line speed advantage at Formula 1’s Canadian Grand Prix, despite Mercedes introducing an engine upgrade.

Mercedes confirmed it had brought a new “Phase 2” power unit to this weekend’s race in Montreal, an update that has been taken by both the works squad and its customer teams Racing Point and Williams.

Ferrari - which has proved to be the benchmark so far this year in terms of outright top speed - already made its first power unit change of the season at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, but has introduced new turbo and MGU-H elements for both its drivers in Canada.

And Bottas thinks the Scuderia will retain the “upper hand” in engine performance.

“We don’t think it’s quite yet enough to match Ferrari’s straight-line speed,” Bottas said during his Thursday media session.

“They will have the upper-hand on that, but we have our strengths in other areas.

“I don’t think there’s ever a perfect car, there’s always things you can improve, at least for now. For sure the engine upgrade is very welcome. That is thanks to all of the work at Brixworth.

“Obviously it’s something we need to see physically how it actually behaves on-track and everything. We also need to make sure that it’s reliable.

“We’re expecting already from a fresh engine a tiny bit of power gain, but we’re expecting a small step forward.”

Mercedes is seeking its seven consecutive victory of the season this weekend and continued to set the pace in FP1, with championship leader Lewis Hamilton edging out Bottas by 0.147s.

Charles Leclerc was nearly a second adrift in the timesheets as the fastest Ferrari driver in third, though he comfortably topped the speed trap figures for the Italian squad.

“I think it’s coming to the right time because the first engine is running towards the end of its life, so we will have needed a new one anyway,” Bottas added.

“But it’s nice to have the upgrade here, definitely, for example compared to Monaco. The engine is much more valuable here, so it’s good timing for that.

"We need to see how it actually feels and works, and how much it is going to benefit compared to the old one.”

Bottas had a slight reliability concern right at the end of opening practice as he reported "misfiring" issues with his power unit, with Mercedes suspecting a loss of fuel pressure to be the cause. 

 

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