MONTREAL, June 6 (Reuters) – Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton will have a new and upgraded engine in his Mercedes for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix and expects to be stronger than in the past at a favourite circuit.
The Briton has won six times at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve but was off the podium last year in a race won by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Mercedes have racked up six straight wins, five of them in one-two formation, and Hamilton now leads team mate Valtteri Bottas by 17 points in the championship after taking four victories.
“I don’t think I’ve really excelled for a while here,” the five-times champion told reporters on Thursday.
“When I was at McLaren it worked quite well, our car was quite nimble back then and worked really well here. It’s been a bit harder with the hybrid era, especially since we’ve had a longer car, since 2017.”
That, however, could be about to change.
“But our car is a lot better this year in the slower and medium-speed corners. I anticipate this weekend we will be stronger than we have been in the past,” Hamilton said.
Mercedes have confirmed that Hamilton and Bottas, as well as customer teams Racing Point and Williams, will have upgraded engines in Canada.
Honda, Ferrari and Renault have already introduced their first upgrades.
“The guys at Brixworth (the Mercedes engine factory) have been working incredibly hard,” said Hamilton.
“We’ve had great reliability with the first engine. (But) it’s always great when you have a new engine, being that it’s fresh. This is a power circuit so it’s come at the perfect time.”
“It’s the phase two. It will have all new mods, slight improvements everywhere. It’s not like at the beginning of the hybrid era, where you took massive strides forwards. It’s now small percentages, but very much appreciated.”
Hamilton still expects a strong challenge from Ferrari and Red Bull, however.
“Honda have really picked up their pace with their engine this year so the Red Bulls should be really strong and they’re great through corners,” he said.
“The Ferrari is generally the quickest car in a straight line. In the past races we’ve managed to catch them up through the corners, but whether or not that will be the case this weekend, time will tell.”