Mercedes will decide whether to introduce its new-spec upgraded Formula 1 engine at the French Grand Prix on Friday.

The reigning world champions planned to run its updated power units at the Canadian Grand Prix but a late reliability concern forced Mercedes to delay introduction until this weekend’s French Grand Prix. 

It has since transpired the German manufacturer is still not 100 percent confident it has solved the quality control issue that resulted in the team continuing with its first-spec 2018 engine it had been running since the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Canada. 

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Speaking in his pre-race media session on Thursday, Valtteri Bottas confirmed a final decision would be made on Friday. 

“We need to take some kind of new engine, because the other one is already seven races old, We are very much wanting to run the new spec, but we need to confirm tomorrow if we can or not,” the Finn said. “We’ll see tomorrow.”

“I trust that things have been improved since two weeks ago, and if we decide to run it, it’s because we’ve got full confidence we can run it. It is extremely close between the top three teams in every race weekend, so any gain we can make will be very important if we want to win the title. For sure we’re looking forward to having the new one and that’s our plan, so let’s hope we can use it.”

Mercedes' failure to introduce its ‘Spec 2’ engine in Canada cost the team, as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel dominated proceeding to claim a comfortable victory ahead of Bottas, while Lewis Hamilton struggled to fifth and slipped behind Vettel in the championship. 

Bottas labelled Ferrari as favourites heading into this weekend’s race and added Mercedes is in need of performance improvements if it is going to successfully defend the four consecutive world championship titles it has claimed since 2014. 

“We definitively need some improvements,” Bottas explained. “As it is now, we think Ferrari are the favourites, based on what we saw in Montreal both in raw pace, in qualifying, and in the race. We need some improvements if we want to fight for the wins, so we hope we can have it, but we also need to improve the car.

“As the championship is so close now, we need to gain every tenth, every hundred of a second, they’re going to be very crucial. For sure the while team in Brackley and Brixworth wants to go with the new spec but we’ll have to wait for tomorrow. If we want to win the championship we need to keep getting all the small gains. And this is a big gain and we also need that!”

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