Mercedes is experiencing Formula 1’s new reality of hygiene protocols as it builds up to the start of the 2020 season with a two-day test at Silverstone.

The reigning world champion squad is ramping up its preparations for next month’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on July 5 by conducting a two-day private test run at the British Grand Prix venue.

Following weeks of the team’s factory being shutdown and staff being stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has ravaged the 2020 F1 schedule, Mercedes has become the first team to hit the track since pre-season testing at the end of February.

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Valtteri Bottas is driving Mercedes’ 2018 title-winning W09 on Tuesday before six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton takes over for a day of running on Wednesday.

The private test is enabling Mercedes to conduct real-world test of the new health and safety procedures F1 teams will have to observe while operating their cars once the season gets underway behind closed doors next month.

Mercedes has released pictures from the first day of the test which shows team personnel adhering to social distancing guidelines where possible and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves and face masks.

F1’s regulations do not allow for official in-season testing of current cars, but teams are permitted to use cars which are at least two years old to conduct as much mileage as they want.

It is understood that Ferrari will also carry out a test before the season begins, though McLaren has confirmed it will be unable to do so due to complications relating to its switch from Honda engines.