Esteban Ocon made his Formula 1 testing return as Renault wrapped up its two-day test at the Red Bull Ring in Austria ahead of next month’s 2020 season-opener. 

Renault has been stepping up its preparations for the new campaign by holding a private test at the Spielberg venue using its 2018 car. 

F1’s regulations prevent the teams from doing unrestricted running in their current cars, prompting several teams to run machinery that is at least two years old in order to carry out unlimited mileage. 

Seven-time grand prix winner Daniel Ricciardo kicked off the two-day test on Tuesday, completing a total of 115 laps, before he handed over the R.S. 18 car to his new teammate Ocon on Wednesday. 

The Frenchman added a further 145 laps - equivalent to 614km - to the team’s tally in what marked his first on-track appearance since pre-season testing concluded in Barcelona at the end of February. 

It provided both team personnel and the drivers the opportunity to practice F1’s strict new health and safety protocols - including the use of face masks and observing social distancing - that will be enforced when racing resumes in two weeks’ time. 

Quarantine restrictions in the UK and France complicated where Renault could stage its planned run, but undertaking the test in Austria has clear benefits for the French manufacturer given the Red Bull Ring will host back-to-back races to kick off the delayed season, beginning with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5. 

Mercedes conducted a similar test at Silverstone last week as reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas returned to action driving the team’s 2018 title-winning W09. 

Racing Point was also in action on Wednesday as Lance Stroll shook down the team’s 2020 challenger for a restricted 100km run at Silverstone, while AlphaTauri and Red Bull are also set to carry out filming days next week. 

Ferrari will complete a test at Fiorano with its 2018 car, the SF71H, to give Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc a chance to get back up to speed before the campaign gets underway, though a date has not yet been confirmed. 

 

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