Formula One is back! The 2020 season has finally started, as Lewis Hamilton and Co get the green light to participate in the first practice during the Austrian Grand Prix after a 16-week absence
- The 2020 Formula 1 season is underway after a long absence of 16 weeks
- The drivers have started preparations for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix
- Lewis Hamilton and Co entered the track on the Red Bull Ring for the first practice
Formula 1 has made its long-awaited return to our television screens with the first practice session ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix – 16 weeks the day since the campaign was suspended in 2020 due to the corona virus pandemic.
Lewis Hamilton took to the track on Friday morning in the brand new Mercedes black car, with the world champion being one of the last drivers to leave the garage for the first practice session.
The first driver to do a lap on the Red Bull Ring was Lando Norris in the McLaren, who started the new season first from the pits.
Lewis Hamilton enters the track at the Red Bull Ring for the first practice prior to the Austrian GP
McLaren’s British driver, Lando Norris, was the first to record a lap time in the first practice
But all eyes were on Hamilton and his stunning all-black Mercedes, which was designed by the six-time world champion to fight racism.
And it wasn’t just the Mercedes that had changed after the start of the new season, with the sport making several adjustments after the Covid-19 outbreak.
One of the more obvious changes will be that there will be no fans on race weekends, with F1 following in the footsteps of other sports resumed behind closed doors.
Fans usually stood in the stands on the Red Bull Ring during the race weekend, but were empty on Friday as the drivers began posting lap times during the first practice session.
Pierre Gasly makes his way across the track on Friday morning in his Scuderia AlphaTauri
Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Russian driver Daniil Kvyat leaves the team garage to practice
Another tradition to be dropped for the Austrian GP and future races is that there are no podium ceremonies, with F1 officials determined to adhere to new health and safety measures around the corona virus.
It will not be a roster walk for media personnel to conduct pre-race interviews, while the presence of the media as a whole will decrease.
Drivers and race personnel will now undergo rigorous testing for Covid-19, where they will be tested before traveling to an event.
They are then tested at five-day intervals, with signs of the virus’s symptoms leading to additional testing.
If a positive test is recorded, the person in question is isolated before those with whom they have been in close contact are also tested and isolated pending the results.
An ‘End Racism’ message is placed in a statement of support for the Black Lives Matter movement
Teams are then isolated from each other in their own small bubbles in an attempt to reduce the risk of the virus spreading, if any.
Face masks are now mandatory for everyone involved on race weekends, while each team has reduced their staff. This means that only 80 members (less than 130) of each team may be admitted to the track, with the limit also limiting those working on the car – known as operating personnel limited to 60.
The build-up for the race will also be shortened, the pit lane is now open just 30 minutes before the start of the race and each team has a limit of only 40 people on the grid. Also, drivers should not be together while observing folk songs.
FORMULA 1 CALENDAR 2020
Austrian Grand Prix (Spielberg): July 5
Styrian GP (Spielberg): July 13
Hungarian GP (Budapest): July 19
British GP (Silverstone): August 2
70th anniversary GP (Silverstone): August 9
Spanish GP (Barcelona): August 16
Belgian GP (Spa-Francorchamps): August 30
Italian GP (Monza): September 6
September-November: Eurasia (Russia), Asia (Vietnam and China) and America (Canada, United States, Mexico, Brazil)
December: Middle East (Bahrain and Abu Dhabi)
Australia, Monaco, France, Netherlands, Azerbaijan, Singapore, Japan