Bottas: Mercedes "learned a lot" on new F1 COVID-19 protocols in test

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Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes learned plenty from its first test running under Formula 1’s new closed-event protocols at Silverstone on Tuesday, calling the day “very helpful”.

In order to step up preparations for the delayed start to the new F1 season on 5 July in Austria, Mercedes is completing two days of private test running at Silverstone this week.

The test is being conducted with the 2018-spec Mercedes W09, thus allowing for extended running outside of F1’s testing restrictions for current cars.

Mercedes was eager to complete the test with its full race team to practice new protocols for F1’s return following the outbreak of COVID-19, putting in place guidelines such as social distancing and wearing face masks.

Bottas was behind the wheel for Tuesday’s running, and will hand over the W09 to team-mate Lewis Hamilton on Wednesday.

“Today I think it was a very helpful day for the team,” Bottas said.

“Obviously everyone being out from racing and the garage environment for a long time, and there are many new regulations, and we need to be cautious with different things for health. It was good to practice that.

“I think we learned a lot during the day, how to do things more efficiently and make sure everyone is going to be safe once we eventually start racing.

“I loved to be back in a car, and now I can’t wait for Austria, and to be back racing again very soon.”

Mercedes completed a number of altered procedures to prepare for the Austria race weekend, including a full grid start.

The grid procedure will be heavily-revised for the closed events, ensuring only essential personnel are present.

Mercedes recently undertook COVID-19 tests for every team member, and confirmed that all those present at Silverstone on Tuesday had tested negative.

All team members wore face masks at the track, while a larger full face shield was used by engineers when in close contact with Bottas in the car, such as when strapping him in to the cockpit.

Mercedes’ test marks the first on-track running by an F1 team since the end of pre-season testing in Barcelona at the end of February.

Ferrari will also be completing some private testing in the near future, but McLaren has already confirmed it is unable to run any of its older-spec F1 cars.

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