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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 5 March 2021

Formula One: Lewis Hamilton gears up for new season at Silverstone next week

Six-times world champion will be in his title-winning 2018 Mercedes car on Wednesday, while Russia GP is latest to throw hat in ring for double-header

Six-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will be back on track at Silverstone next week for the first time since February, as Mercedes gear up for the start of the delayed Formula One season.

Hamilton will be in his title-winning 2018 Mercedes W09 car on Wednesday, with team mate Valtteri Bottas driving on Tuesday, to practice protocols for the July 5 Austrian opener.

F1 has published an initial calendar with eight races in 10 weeks, taking place without spectators and in carefully controlled conditions because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Silverstone, which hosts Hamilton's home British Grand Prix, is due to host two back-to-back races in August when it will also celebrate the 70th anniversary of the first world championship grand prix there.

Drivers have not raced since December, with the planned season-opener in Australia cancelled in March, and while they have been busy training during the lockdown some are concerned about preparedness.

Mercedes returned to work only this week after a long factory shutdown as part of cost-saving measures.

"There is going to be so much rust, a combination of emotion, excitement, eagerness," Australian Daniel Ricciardo said last month.

"Everyone is going to be ready to go. You are going to get some guys who perform on that level of adrenalin and others who might not," added the Renault driver.

"So you're going to get some bold overtakes, some miscalculated ones. You're going to see a bit of everything."

Meanwhile, Russian Grand Prix organisers said on Thursday that they were open to hosting back-to-back races in Sochi this season.

Austria and the United Kingdom are both hosting two races on successive weekends.

Following the the July 5 opener, Spielberg are hosting a second race the following weekend on July 10-12.

F1 will then head to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix on July 31-August 2 and the track will stage another race weekend on August 7-9.

Sochi, with a circuit winding around the Olympic Park used for the 2014 Winter Games, is due to host the Russian Grand Prix on September 27 although that stage of the calendar remains uncertain.

It has the advantage of a nearby airport and accommodation that was once part of the Olympic athletes' village and is within walking distance of the circuit and can be easily isolated.

Russian GP promoters ROSGONKI said in a statement they were looking at several options.

"Sochi's infrastructure and the experience of the promoter company allow us to consider the possibility of holding an F1 double header," they added.

"The traditional race weekend is still the preferred option. However, if necessary, the organisers are ready for an alternative."

Published: June 5, 2020 08:08 AM


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