Lewis Hamilton expects drivers will be “rusty as hell” when the delayed 2020 Formula 1 season finally gets underway.

The 2020 F1 season is currently on ice amid a suspension to racing caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the opening 10 races to be called off.

F1 plans to get the campaign off the ground with a series of behind closed doors double-header events across Europe, beginning at Austria’s Red Bull Ring on July 5.

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Hamilton reckons drivers will feel the effects of the enforced break from competition and has urged his Mercedes team to “hit the ground running”.

"I do hope I'm going to come back better," Hamilton said in a Mercedes video interview.

"We're probably going to get in the car and have Friday practice and we're all going to be as rusty as hell!

"So it will be really interesting to see how we hit the ground running. But I've been on the phone with my team, speaking to Bono [Peter Bonnington] and speaking to James [Vowles], and trying to discuss with them a plan.

“I think we all need to make sure we arrive utilising all the tools we have like race simulations – I probably will get in the simulator, which I don't always love – but utilising those tools to make sure that when we come to that first race, we hit the ground running and we're ready as if we've not missed any of the races.

"It's how can we arrive in Austria like we've already done eight races? That's going to be the real challenge. I don't know if we're going to be able to do it, but that's a good goal to have.”

Hamilton hopes to return from the prolonged break in even better shape as he looks to match Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven world championships this year. The Briton believes that everyone should be utilising this time to reflect and seek self-improvement.

“I think if you are not improving and growing during these days, then what are we doing? You’re obviously just wasting time sitting on your backside,” he explained.

"There's nothing going to be handed to any of us, we've got to go out there and get whatever we want, and you've got to want it more than the person you're fighting against. And you've just got to get off your arse and do it.

"I'm in pretty decent shape, but I can always be in better shape. I see things and I think, 'Damn, I've got a bit of fat here, shoot I've got to work harder, I've got to go for a run.’

"In actually reality I don't really have much fat! But there are people out there that have these things going through their minds, but you've just got to let go, find what it is you like, and say I'm going to do it, I'm not going to let anybody get in my way."