Formula 1: Mercedes conduct two-day test

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Valtteri Bottas
Several teams will perform tests in older cars

Mercedes are conducting a two-day test at Silverstone this week in preparation for the resumption of the Formula 1 season next month.

The world champions are running a two-year-old car, permitted by F1's testing restrictions, so drivers can "blow off the cobwebs" after a three-month break.

The team will also practise the social-distancing protocols organised by F1 to ensure the season can run safely.

Valtteri Bottas will drive on Tuesday, and Lewis Hamilton on Wednesday.

F1 has been forced to postpone or cancel the first 10 races of the season as a result of the coronavirus crisis but has now announced the first eight grands prix of a revamped championship.

This starts with races on three consecutive weekends in July, with two events at Austria's Red Bull Ring on 3-5 July and 10-12 July followed by the Hungarian Grand Prix on 17-19 July.

All will be covered by strict social distancing and coronavirus testing guidelines to ensure minimal risk.

Teams will travel on charter planes, and will be kept apart while away from the UK, staying in separate hotels from each other, with no mixing allowed at the track.

Team personnel and drivers will be tested before travelling to the event and every two days while there, while teams will be separated into "families" and "sub-families" to limit contact between people.

If any team member tests positive for coronavirus, all members of their "sub-family" will have to isolate until they have tested negative, a procedure that is expected to take up to two hours.

Some media will be allowed to attend, but they will be kept apart from the teams, and journalists from the written media will not even be allowed into the paddock.

All news conferences will be virtual, even for those travelling to the race.

The social distancing guidelines will be under constant review, with the potential for them to be relaxed for the subsequent races in Britain, Spain, Belgium and Italy.

Teams returned to work this week after the end of a lengthened factory shutdown, which ran from the end of the week after the cancelled Australian Grand Prix until the end of May.

A number of other teams are also expected to conduct similar warm-up tests to Mercedes in the coming days.

Testing of current cars is heavily restricted under F1's rules, with teams allowed to do only 100km a limited number of days a year.

So two-year-old cars will generally be used for these tests as they permit much greater mileage.

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