Mercedes F1 Returns To The Track With Two-Year Old Car
Reigning Formula 1 World Constructors’ Champion Mercedes-AMG has returned to the track for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak in a familiarisation test ahead of the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
The two-day test at Silverstone allows the six-time Constructors’ champion to dust off the cobwebs and trial new coronavirus-related health and safety protocols ahead of the double-header at the Red Bull Ring from 3-5 July onwards. Valtteri Bottas was on driver detail with reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton expected to take the wheel on Wednesday.
This marks the first real-world Formula 1 test of any kind since pre-season testing at Barcelona drew to a close on February 28th.
Across both days, the team will be running a two-year-old W09, the most recent specification permissible without broaching F1’s rules on testing current machinery. In 2018, the snappily titled ‘W09 EQ Power+’ collected 11 wins (all with Hamilton) and a further 14 podium finishes en-route to the fifth consecutive Constructors’ Championship for Mercedes and the fifth Drivers’ title in total for Hamilton. The W09 also started 13 of its 21 races from pole position, collecting 10 fastest laps in the process. Fittingly, 2018 was also the first year in which the HALO was made mandatory in F1.
The W09 is not expected to feature any components being introduced on the team’s 2020 charger, the W11, and will also use testing tyres provided by Pirelli rather than 2020-spec rubber.
All team personnel in the garage, including Bottas, were required to wear PPE in compliance with local guidelines. This included team principal Toto Wolff whose future with Mercedes has been the source of much speculation since buying a stake in Aston Martin two months ago. During the trial, mechanics – reduced in number to encourage social distancing where applicable – were apparently encouraged not to share tools and equipment, though how this will be possible during a hectic Grand Prix weekend is anybody’s guess.
Though not yet confirmed, Ferrari is also expected to follow Mercedes’ example with its own private test ahead of the season-opening double header.
*Images courtesy of Mercedes-AMG F1