By Alan Baldwin
MONTREAL (Reuters) - Ferrari failed to finish on the Formula One podium for the first time this season in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix but still found positives in the performance.
Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said it was clear an engine upgrade had delivered even if champions Mercedes dominated the race.
"If you look at the pace of Seb (Vettel) during the race, it's quite clear we were there," he told reporters. "So I think in terms of performance it's fine.
"But when you get points but not the podium you cannot say you are satisfied.
Arrivabene said the upgrade had given the team "the positive answer that we were asking for" but circumstances had not allowed the sport's oldest and most successful team to make the most of it at a circuit that rewards engine power.
"It's a long way to go. We need to recognize that at the moment they (Mercedes) are stronger than us without thinking that we closed the gap so we can beat them every race," added the Italian. "This is not realistic.
"But the answer that we got during this weekend, especially with the race of Seb, was quite good."
Ferrari remain comfortably second in the constructors' standings with 180 points to Mercedes's 285. Mercedes-powered Williams are third on 104.
Vettel, a four times world champion with Red Bull, finished fifth after starting in 18th place because of power unit problems in qualifying and a five place penalty incurred for overtaking while red flags were waved in practice.
Kimi Raikkonen, who ended up fourth after starting third, finished 45.6 seconds adrift of winner and world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel did well in fighting through back marker traffic and past Mercedes-powered rivals Force India and Lotus but Raikkonen hurt his chances with a spin that forced a change of strategy from one stop to two.
The Finn still set the fastest lap, however.
Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff, whose drivers finished one-two for the fourth time in seven races this season, said the setbacks had masked the gains Ferrari had made and warned against complacency.
"I think we must not under-estimate the (engine) upgrade they have brought because we have seen a very strong pace on the Friday," said the Austrian.
"My assumption is that we haven't seen the best of Ferrari. So let's not under-estimate them. I think that they will bounce back strong in Austria (next week)."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)