Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton yesterday said it was good to know he could still drive after returning to the track in a Formula One car for the first time in more than 100 days at Silverstone on Wednesday.
A day after his teammate Valtteri Bottas returned to action in dry conditions, the Briton put his 2018 title-winning Mercedes W09 car through its paces on a greasy track after early showers.
The team are practising protocols for the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5, which will serve as the rescheduled season opener.
“I didn’t feel like I’ve ever left the water, so that’s a positive,” Hamilton said in a video posted on Mercedes’ social media channels.
“Every time you take a big break – I think it’s been 103 days or something – you always wonder whether you can still drive.
“So it’s a good feeling to know of course I can, I’m ready, I feel fit. I hope you guys are all well and excited for what’s coming up.”
F1 has released an initial calendar of eight European races in 10 weeks, all of which will be held without fans and in controlled conditions owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
Given the circumstances, the 35-year-old Hamilton admitted that he was just happy to be behind the wheel again, saying: “When you leave the garage, the first time you get this buzz, and it doesn’t matter how many years you do it, it always feels new and fresh.
“Obviously, this is an older car but it still felt fantastic. In general, we got through a solid programme.
“Valtteri’s day was dry, my day started off wet, so quite a greasy Silverstone track.
But obviously I grew up in this kind of weather, so I’m used to it. I was still able to get a good feel of the car.”
The tests are allowed under governing body FIA’s rules, as the team are using an older car which has to be run to contemporary specifications without any current parts trialled.
Mercedes must also use testing tyres provided by Pirelli, rather than this year’s race rubber.