Sacred seven! Lewis Hamilton eyes Michael Schumacher's record
Champ Lewis Hamilton will aim to equal Michael Schumacher's world record as Coronavirus-ravaged Formula One season begins with Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix
Seven months after they last competed in earnest, the Formula One circus will push a post-lockdown reset button to open the 2020 season in Austria on Sunday.
The event at Spielberg is being held on its original calendar date, but is not the once-anticipated 11th round of the championship, but the first—a season-opener delayed by the global COVID-19 pandemic. More than three months after the Australian Grand Prix was abandoned on the eve of opening practice in Melbourne, the race in the Styrian Alps will be run behind closed doors, without fans, sponsors' agents and guests and only a handful of reporters restricted to the media centre.
The usual high-rise motor homes will be replaced by tents and awnings while the teams, cut to 80 members and all in protective gear, will operate in sanitised "bubbles within bubbles" in a paddock bereft of human contact and the usual swell of rumour and speculation.
For all involved, who are tested four days before the event and five days later, it will be an unprecedented and unique experience. Yet, despite all the change and the surreal atmosphere it is expected that the action, when it begins, will deliver the same likely story.
Lewis Hamilton, powered by the all-conquering Mercedes, goes in search of a seventh drivers' title to equal the record of Michael Schumacher. "It has been unbearable—I have missed the racing and the competition so much, so it will be great to be back," said Mercedes team boss
Mercedes to run black-liveried cars
Mercedes will have black-liveried cars in the 2020 season as the world champions aim to make a visual stand against racism and for diversity in the wake of 'Black Lives Matter' campaign. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will race black-liveried Mercedes cars as F1 returns. "For 2020, we have chosen to race in an all-black base livery as a public pledge to improve the diversity of our team," said a Mercedes statement.
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