Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes will need to pull off the “perfect tow” in Italian Grand Prix qualifying to have a chance of challenging Formula 1 rival Ferrari for pole position.

The Finn ended up 0.369s adrift of Friday practice pacesetter Charles Leclerc, though Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was able to get within 0.068s of the Ferrari driver at Monza.

But Bottas believes Mercedes’ best chance of fighting for pole will be if it can take the advantage of the slipstream benefit, given its straight-line speed deficit to Ferrari. Mercedes calculated Ferrari’s power advantage to be worth as much as 15kph on the straights at the Belgian Grand Prix last time out.

It is due to be Hamilton’s turn to run second in qualifying for the German manufacturer this weekend, meaning he, in theory at least, will be best-positioned to make the most of the potential tow.

“I think we an opportunity but we definitely need to get quite a perfect set-up from the package we have and a perfect tow too,” Bottas said.

“It was a little bit messy in terms of the run plan we had, to actually make it happen, but it was the same for everyone. There were a couple of corners where it was raining at times, and that made it a little bit more difficult to get more detailed data of the tyres and the car behavior.

“But we managed to get a bit of a feel, the car didn’t feel too bad, I didn’t have a very good tow on my quickest lap, but otherwise it felt good and it was pretty positive on the long runs, at the end with the higher fuel load. I had a good feeling and good pace, so that’s positive for Sunday.

“We knew coming here they [Ferrari] were going to be strong, but for sure it didn’t look any worse than Spa for us. For sure we have a good chance this weekend and if qualifying is for sure going to be important, But the main thing is Sunday and how the race pace is going to be.”

Asked if he feels Mercedes’ race-pace can be as good as in Spa at the least, Bottas replied: “At least, with the limited running we had, it felt quite good.

“That’s promising but, for sure, there are still lots of things to be found from today before we’ve headed to qualifying and the race.”