• IN WORDS: Lewis & Valtteri Talk Engines & Prospects in Canada

It's a track they both love: but can Lewis & Valtteri work their Montreal magic this weekend?

'I'm still here to win'

With pre-weekend headlines dominated by talk of fresh Power Units and the intrigue of potential upgrades therein, there was quite a buzz when the team announced that a quality issue meant all Mercedes-powered cars would continue running the first iteration in Canada before receiving new units in France.

But what effect do the men behind the wheel expect it to have on their prospects for the weekend?

"I think it's really difficult to know," said Lewis during his press call on Thursday afternoon. "If the others are bringing updates and have fresh engines it depends how close we are. Ferrari are already very strong on the straights. If they bring their upgrade it might be a difficult weekend.

"I'm on my seventh race with the Power Unit and it's a difficult circuit on the engine. Our goal is to finish every single race so I'm just hoping for the reliability. The engine is in good shape so it should be okay. I saved a lot of mileage in these six races already. I think we should be in a good position.

"Naturally, an upgrade would be nice. Hopefully that will come in the next race or two. It definitely was our target and the guys worked as hard as they could - but we had to take the sensible decision to not bring it here. I'm still here to win."

'It's a good one and it's still healthy'

Valtteri echoed his team-mate's confidence in the trusty steed that is his first Power Unit of the 2018 season and looked ahead to the prospect of unleashing the next generation when the time comes.

"We were initially expecting to bring the new Power Units to this race, which would have been a small gain compared to the old one," he explained. "We found some issues so, just to be safe, we need to make it perfect and hopefully run it in two weeks.

"For sure, the new one would have been a little bit better - but it's not like our old engine, the phase one, is a bad engine. It's a good one and it's still healthy. It's been reliable, so no concerns on that.

"We're also planning to use it again later this year in Budapest - but now, instead of that, we're going to use the new one in Budapest, so I think it's going to be a small penalty. Obviously, it would have been nice but that's how it is."

'Each driver has strengths and weaknesses'

Fresh Power Units or not, it would be bold to rule either of our boys this weekend. With 10 podiums between them at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, they're no slouches around here. So, what is it that just seems to gel with them about this track?

"Each driver has strengths and weaknesses," Lewis assessed. "There are 21 circuits - you can't be perfect at every single one. There are certain circuits that will suit you more than others. This has always been one of those circuits for me.

"I've always been very aggressive on kerbing and being close up to the wall. This is a place where you really need to utilise that confidence. It's just always been a great racing circuit. It's not the hardest of circuits but it's been one that I have loved.

"I'm very happy to be back. It's a great city, always buzzing about the race. There's a lot of history here. I'm excited to build upon that, the history that I have here, and also to see the fans. I always have really great support when I come here. That's particularly an exciting point."

'I want to win races and I'm sure it will come'

For Valtteri, a hat-trick of podium appearances from his previous three visits to Montreal gives him confidence for a strong showing - and hopefully the chance to break a recent run of bad luck, of which he's had his fair share so far this season.

"I've definitely always liked it here. I love the track; I love the place and I've normally had pretty decent races here, so we want to do that again as a team and me personally," said the Finn.

"Of course, winning here would mean a lot - like winning every race for me. Like last year, if the trend stays similar, that we are weak in Monaco and good here, hopefully we can have a good weekend.

"I'm just really looking ahead. It's still very early in the season, anything can happen, and I hope I have had my run of bad luck for the year and that things can turn around. There's no point really in stressing about it. I just want to keep going. I want to win races and I'm sure it will come."