Mercedes will be the first team to test an old car to give both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas time behind the wheel ahead of Formula 1’s delayed season start next month.
The opening race of the 2020 season is scheduled to take place in Austria on July 5, with another race at the same venue on July 12 to be followed by the third round of the season in Hungary on July 19. Teams have been unable to carry out any testing due to lockdown conditions in Europe, but those restrictions are now easing, and on-track running for F1 teams will resume this week.
Mercedes will be first to test when it runs its 2018 W09 at Silverstone on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Hamilton and Bottas both getting a day each behind the wheel. Teams are not permitted to use current cars for private testing, but can run a two-year-old car.
The first time the 2020 cars will take to the track since the end of pre-season testing in Barcelona will be for Friday practice in Austria.
Mercedes is not alone in scheduling a test, with Ferrari also understood to be planning on giving both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel – who will leave the team at the end of the season – time in an old car. It is likely that such a test will take place at the team’s Fiorano test track, but a location and date has not been publicly confirmed.
Not all teams are able to do such running, however, with McLaren hampered by its change of power unit supplier in recent years. McLaren and Honda parted ways at the end of 2017, meaning the team could only use its 2018 car for any testing, but the team has opted against investing in a test with the MCL33 as the significant difference to the current concept means it isn’t a representative car to run.
Teams are allowed two promotional days to run their current cars but are restricted to just 100km on specific Pirelli tires, limiting the value of such a test when looking to give both race drivers seat time.