Mercedes tests F1’s coronavirus safety procedure at Silverstone

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Valtteri Bottas completed the first laps of a Formula One car since preseason testing in February, driving a Mercedes at Silverstone on Tuesday.

In the first of two days of tests allocated to the reigning world champions, Bottas took the team’s 2018 title-winning car (decked out in the 2020 livery) around the circuit set to host two races in August — the British Grand Prix on Aug. 2 and the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Aug. 9.

F1’s regulations allow two days of running an old-spec car at private tests, limited to 100km of running each. That would equate to around 17 laps of the Silverstone circuit configuration used for F1 races. The private tests are usually allocated as filming days for sponsors.

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton will take the wheel on Wednesday at the same circuit.

The test is aimed at giving the team an experience of F1’s new safety procedures, aimed at preventing the potential spread of the coronavirus at a race weekend. F1 is set to begin its 2020 season at a behind-closed-doors Austrian Grand Prix on July 5.

The test will not have provided opportunities for Mercedes to test parts for its 2020 car. The cars were fitted with test tyres by Pirelli, rather than the compounds that will be use for any races this season.

Following the test, Mercedes shared pictures of its car on the track and also staff in the garage in protective face masks and practicing social distancing.

F1 teams have not run any laps since the final day of preseason testing on Feb. 28 at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya. In the time since the coronavirus pandemic delayed the start of the season, teams have agreed on a wide-ranging freeze on development of certain car components for 2020 to control costs in the post-Covid-19 world.

F1 has also pushed back the radical revamp of its technical regulations from 2021 to 2022.

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