Mercedes has brought an upgraded engine to this weekend’s Formula 1 season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

The German manufacturer will introduce an updated power unit specification for the first race of the 2020 season in Austria this weekend in a bid to improve reliability. The upgraded specification will also be made avaliable to customer teams Racing Point and Williams. 

Teams are using the first of their respective power unit allocations this weekend after the Australian Grand Prix - which was originally scheduled to host the season-opener - was abandoned at the 11th hour following an outbreak of coronavirus in the Melbourne paddock.

Mercedes has been working on a specification update ever since, which has been readied for introduction in time for the first of two races at the Red Bull Ring with F1 finally resuming after the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Mercedes once again left Barcelona testing appearing the team to beat, its otherwise strong pre-season programme was hampered by a series of reliability problems relating to its engine.

Mercedes got through two engines during the first week of pre-season testing when Valtteri Bottas suffered an electrical issue, while Hamilton’s running on the penultimate day was curtailed as he ground to a halt after just 14 laps.

Mercedes customer Williams also encountered engine-related problems, which occurred as a direct result of the German manufacturer’s aggressive development push for 2020.

The reigning world champion squad’s outgoing engine chief Andy Cowell admitted it had been fighting “a few little issues” prior to testing but the team remained confident it would get on top of the problem by the time the season began in Australia.

It has since developed a new specification it hopes will have eradicated any reliability glitches when it rolls out this weekend. The upgrade is not expected to bring any performance benefits.

Engine rivals Honda will also debut a new spec power unit in Austria as Red Bull looks to take the fight to Mercedes.

 

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