Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says it was “vitally important” to practice Formula 1’s “foreign” new safety protocols prior to the start of the 2020 season.

After the first half of the campaign was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, the delayed 2020 F1 season will finally get underway next weekend with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5.

Back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring will kick off an unprecedented run of eight events in the space of 10 weeks, while F1 championship officials are working to finalise the remainder of the calendar.

Teams will operate under unique hygiene procedures at each of the closed-door races to ensure events can go ahead safely. These measures include the use of face masks and other PPE, as well as observing social distancing guidelines where possible.

A restricted number of F1 personnel will be present at each grand prix and all members in the paddock will undergo strict and frequent testing for coronavirus, with staff from different teams kept apart throughout the weekend.

Many teams have been familiarising themselves with these protocols by conducting private tests in recent weeks, with Red Bull becoming the latest team to practice them during a filming day at Silverstone on Thursday.

“We’ve been at Silverstone to get ourselves back up to speed, practicing garage protocols and pitstop procedures with the new COVID-19 precautions in place,” Horner said.

“As a trial run this has been great for the team to enable them to get used to these procedures, which are a little bit foreign, but which are vitally important.

“By the time we get to Austria, these procedures will be the new normal and today ensures that everybody knows what’s expected of them when we get to Austria. It’s important for the safety of our team and everyone around us in Formula 1.”

After 118 days out of the F1 cockpit since Barcelona pre-season testing concluded in February, Alex Albon got back up to speed by completing the permitted 100km of running in Red Bull’s RB16 challenger around the British Grand Prix venue.

As well as giving Red Bull’s staff the opportunity to test out the new health and safety protocols, it gave Albon the chance to get back into the groove ahead of what is expected to be an intense 2020 season.

Horner believes the test was “very useful” for Albon heading into his first full season with Red Bull this year.

“It has been very useful for Alex too, to get himself dialled in again,” he explained.

“He’s still relatively inexperienced in Formula 1 terms, so to have a day that’s pretty spread out and to do those 100 km, albeit on show car tyres, is something that he’ll be able to take into Austria and benefit from.”