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MUST-SEE: Bottas gets back on track in 2018 car as Mercedes step up 2020 preparations

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After months of observing lockdown, Valtteri Bottas has dusted off the cobwebs and returned to an F1 cockpit for the first time since 2020 pre-season testing, getting behind the wheel of a Mercedes W09 at Silverstone as he and his team prepare for the start of the F1 season.

Bottas drove the 2018-era W09 – the most recent specification of car permissible without breaching F1’s rules on testing current machinery – as Mercedes began a private two-day test at the UK circuit, with the Finn set to hand over to six-time champion Lewis Hamilton on Wednesday.

WATCH: Mercedes fire up W09 engine ahead of 'pre-season' Silverstone test

It follows the announcement of the first tranche of the revised 2020 calendar, with the season set to begin with the first of a double header at Austria’s Red Bull Ring on July 3-5, followed by races in Hungary, the UK, Spain, Belgium and Italy.

Aside from helping Bottas to get re-acquainted with the extreme g-forces that come with driving a Formula 1 car on the limit, the test will also serve as a useful run-through for the Mercedes team members on the new procedures they’ll be following when racing commences, with photos from the test showing Bottas and his engineers all sporting face masks, as you can see below.

READ MORE: Mercedes tech chief Allison on why the 2020 season will set the agenda for 2022

Bottas will be particularly keen to get his 2020 season off with a bang, meanwhile, as he looks to be kept on for a fifth season with the world champions, with Sebastian Vettel – having recently announced a parting of the ways with Ferrari at the end of 2020 – not yet having been ruled out as a potential target for Mercedes by Team Principal Toto Wolff.

Meanwhile, Formula1.com has learned Ferrari will also conduct a test in the coming weeks (date and location TBC), giving Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel the chance to warm up ahead of their return to racing in Austria.

READ MORE: Toto Wolff on his future, Mercedes’ commitment to F1 – and those Aston Martin links

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