What we learned from F1’s return after 102 days away

published on July 2, 2020

formula 1 is back on track sort of after

a hiatus of more than three months 102

days to be exact we saw an f1 car

hitting a circuit again thanks to

Mercedes 2-day test at Silverstone with

a 2018 car it ended a long absence that

stretched back to the final day of

pre-season testing at the end of

February thanks to the late cancellation

of the Australian Grand Prix just before

free practice started the escalation of

a global crisis since then indefinitely

suspended the Formula One season or the

start date of July 5th now set in stone

teams and drivers are escalating their

preparations for the Austrian Grand Prix

that includes blowing off the cobwebs

and getting up to speed with new

complicated safety protocols that must

be followed to allow Formula One to

return so here's what the end of f1 is

102 day absence has revealed we've known

for a while that Formula One will have

strict measures to adhere to when the

season begins in Austria as part of a

so-called biosphere plan created by the


charter planes have been arranged

there's a limit on team personnel and

everybody attending will be tested

before traveling and then every 2 days

after arrival but exactly how the teams

would work when they got there was

something of a mystery we knew there'd

be paddock bubbles separating their

teams from each other but also

implementing intra team clusters for

groups that cannot practice social

distancing while working

Mercedes tests gave us the first look at

what that new normal will be at least in

the European races Mercedes rearranged

its setup in and around the garage they

tried to keep people separate where

possible and we had the first visual

example of the clusters of personnel who

can't avoid working closely to one

another such as any of the mechanics who

must handle the turnaround of the car

staff was seen wearing masked on any

occasion they could not maintain a two

metre distance from one another and when

strapping the driver in and therefore

getting even closer than normal the team

member in question was wearing a

protective visor over the mask as well

Marcedes test was primarily to practice

the use of these new social distancing

protocols wearing protective equipment

and adhering to any of the restrictions

that have been stipulated for race

weekends in a monster 18,000 word book

of guidelines created by the FIA it was

therefore a valuable opportunity to get

used to these safety provisions while

minimizing the impact of working

practices while running the cars but as

admitted he had to do quite a lot of

waiting while the team practiced its

protocols for the effort appears to have

been immediately worthwhile he said the

team seemed pretty comfortable with the

new measures and trackside engineering

director Andrew shovelling confirmed it

was an important exercise the entire

team had been tested and tested negative

prior to the silverstern running and

shovelling said were quite confident

with those procedures that we can keep

the team safe and the sport can continue

and we'll have some successful races

come next month drivers and teams have

had to spend most of the hiatus adherent

and lockdown measures preventing many

from getting back on track until very

recently Lando Norris and Alex Alban

have tested Foreman of three cars while

Ferraris show LeClair has got behind the

wheel using a shifter car in Italy bot s

has been arguably the most creative

combining carting with rallying at home

in Finland for much of the lockdown but

there is no direct replacement for a

Formula One car and while nobody will

drive a representative 2020 machine in a

full-blown test before Austria even

getting behind the wheel of an old car

clocks a clear benefit Hamilton who

hasn't driven anything since testing

said he didn't feel like I ever left the

water after finally driving again 103

days after his preseason ended he said

that every time you take a big break you

always wonder whether you can still

drive and joked it's a good feeling to

know that I can but more seriously he

acknowledged that he feels ready and fit

having got back behind the wheel a

verdict the bot has declared as well the

Finn said everything felt normal after a

few laps and after his ongoing

preparation it gave me a good confidence

that I'm ready for the first race

Ferraris already planning its own

private test for LeClair and Sebastian

Vettel like Mercedes using an old car

but other teams are planning to make use

of leftover film and day allowances to

put their 2020 cars on track racing

point is the only team to publicly say

it's going to do exactly that and will

run at Silverstone next week filming

days are restricted to 100 kilometres of

running using promotional tires but such

a day will still allow the team to get

used to working within the new safety

protocols plus there will be the added

bonus of effectively shaking down the

2020 car again after such a long absence

other teams aren't so fortunate McLaren

for example cannot join its fellow teams

in running at a track as it doesn't have

any more filming days to use and doesn't

have the engine it needs to run an older

car either but Mercedes has shown us

it's clear that any team that can do

something to get up to speed with the

new protocols and get rid of any rust

after such a long absence will find a

benefit in doing so as Formula One teams

take their second attempt to prove these

in preparations to the next level

are you expecting some teams to be out

of sorts at the first race do you think

there should be an official test of some

kind before Austria let us know in the

comments below

drop us any questions you might have

about how the seasons restarting and if

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more insight as Formula One prepares for

the season to finally begin

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