Racing Point returns to track with RP20

Lance Stroll

Racing Point have become the first team to drive their 2020 car since preseason testing, with Lance Stroll taking to the track at Silverstone on Wednesday.

None of the 10 teams’ drivers have turned a wheel in their latest cars since the end of pre-season testing in Spain in February.

Teams are allowed two in-season promotional days for filming purposes, and Stroll completed 100km on Pirelli demonstration tyres at the circuit over the road from the Racing Point factory.

Renault were also in action at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, where the season is due to start on July 5 with two back-to-back races, with Frenchman Esteban Ocon at the wheel of the team’s 2018 car and completing 614km.

“I’ve missed this so much, 145 laps done ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix feeling fresh, feeling ready, and more,” he said on Instagram.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo drove on Tuesday, doing 115 laps and 500km.

Six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas drove the title-winning 2018 W09 car last week as they practised protocols for races without spectators and special measures related to the pandemic.

Other drivers have also clambered back into the cockpit after months of gym work and simulated racing, but in less powerful cars.

McLaren’s Lando Norris drove a Formula Three car at Silverstone this month.

“It’s surprising how many top quality drivers fancy a go in an F3 car just to get their eye back in,” Trevor Carlin, who runs teams in a range of junior series, told Reuters.

“Lando’s doing Silverstone again this week and (team mate) Carlos (Sainz) is doing a day with him as well. I’ve had a Red Bull driver out, I’ve got a Williams driver out and I’ve got various other young drivers out as well.”