Mercedes begins F1 testing at Silverstone with Covid-19 safety measures


Mercedes has conducted a private test ahead of F1's return in July, with pit crew and drivers in masks

Valtteri Bottas testing, Silverstone 2020

Valtteri Bottas was back in an F1 car on Tuesday ahead of F1's return

@MercedesAMGF1 / Twitter

The Mercedes Formula 1 team is back out on track for the first time since pre-season testing ended and the Covid-19 pandemic put motor sport on hold.

The team is conducting the private test session at Silverstone under restrictions drawn up to prevent the spread of coronavirus as racing returns from its hiatus.

Pictures shared on social media show Valtteri Bottas in a face mask and one team member wearing a visor during what the team described as a protocol test, to help staff adjust to new health and safety procedures before the season begins.

The team described the images as “the new normal”.

Valtteri Bottas is in the car on Tuesday and Lewis Hamilton will follow on Wednesday as both drivers and team look to get a feel for racing after such an extended time away from racing.

It is the first time the drivers will have driven a Formula 1 car since the final day of winter testing on February 28. In accordance with F1 regulations, the team is using its 2018 W09 car ahead of next month’s season-opening double header in Austria.

Guidelines published by Motorsport UK, the governing body of motor sport in the country, outlines how events will be run during the ongoing pandemic and include a number of preventative measures to ensure racing can resume as safely as possible.

PPE must be worn by teams in compliance with government guidelines, a reduced number of mechanics and team personnel will be permitted to attend events and will have to comply with social distancing regulations. Pit areas will be regularly sanitised and mechanics will be encouraged to not share tools and equipment.

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F1 has said that it will implement its own procedures to ensure the first eight races of the season go ahead as safely as possible. Team personnel will be tested thoroughly both before and during events and travel privately where possible to maintain isolation. On the ground the number of staff present at each race will be drastically reduced and those that do travel will be operating under social distancing measures.

Mercedes also confirmed that every member of the team present at the tests at Silverstone had tested negative for Covid-19.

The first race of the 2020 season will take play on July 5, before a second race at the Red Bull Ring takes place a week later to kick-off the delayed season.