Mercedes is confident it can execute a safe restart to the Formula 1 season next month after completing a two-day test at Silverstone.
F1 will start racing on July 5 in Austria, with two races taking place at the Red Bull Ring to be followed by a third in Hungary. Teams have been returning to work at their factories following a mandatory shutdown period over the past two weeks, and Mercedes carried out a test at Silverstone with a 2018 car – using race drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton – on Tuesday and Wednesday in order to understand how it can maintain social distancing, or where it needs protective measures when it returns to action.
“We’re here with the race team and the rice drivers and principally looking at how we’re going to get ready to go racing in Austria,” trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said. “Make sure that all the procedures in order to prevent any risk of transmitting the virus can work with our operating the race car, which we’re going to have to do when we go racing.
“You’ll see a lot of people wearing masks – we’re doing that on any occasions where we can’t maintain a two-meter distance, but also in and around the garage we’ve got everyone separate now, so there’s good spacing between them.
“Obviously the difficult bit is on the car when the mechanics are there doing the turnaround; that’s when it’s probably hardest for us to keep that gap between everyone.
“Coming here though, everyone got tested. We know the race team at the moment doesn’t have anyone with the virus, and so we’re quite confident that with those procedures that we can keep the team safe and hopefully the sport can continue, and we’ll have some successful races come next month.”
Ferrari is planning on carrying out a similar test, while Racing Point will use up one of its filming days to run the 2020 car at Silverstone next week, with Lance Stroll driving. The team will be limited to 100km on non-current Pirelli tires, and will use the National Circuit rather than the full grand prix layout.