Reliability issues have forced the reigning world champions to exceed its power unit allocation this year, with Hamilton being hit with grid penalties in Turkey and Brazil for moving onto his fourth and fifth ICEs of the season. 

Hamilton benefitted from the new engine as he claimed a stunning fightback win the Sao Paulo Grand Prix before reverting to his older-spec power unit in Qatar. 

But the seven-time world champion is set to receive a welcome boost from the engine Mercedes boss Toto Wolff described as “spicy” for qualifying at this weekend’s inaugural event around the new high-speed Jeddah venue. 

“It’s another step in the right direction,” Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin told Sky Sports after second practice.

“I think it will be a measurable step. Tomorrow we need to get all the performance possible on the car.”

Hamilton, who trails title rival Max Verstappen by eight points with two races to go, set the pace in both of Friday’s practice sessions. 

But Wolff was cautious not to read too much into Hamilton’s fast start and insisted the “odds are against” Mercedes in its title battle with Red Bull. 

“Friday can often be quite misleading,” Wolff explained. “You don’t know what engine modes people are running and we’ve seen big steps from our competitors and ourselves from Friday to Saturday.

“So I wouldn’t want to either jump with exuberance at how good it went, neither be too worried. It’s about really just grinding through the work and coming up with a car as good as it can be.”

Meanwhile, Red Bull believes there is less of an emphasis on engine power around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit than expected, with team principal Christian Horner describing its small deficit to Mercedes on Friday as “encouraging”.