McLaren is unable to run a two-year-old Formula 1 car to help Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris and team personnel to prepare for the restart of the season in Austria next month because of a lack of period engines.
Mercedes is running a 2018 car for Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone for two days from tomorrow, which will also allow the team to familiarise itself with the new safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Ferrari is also expected to test before the start of the season, although the date and venue is yet to be confirmed.
F1 rules don’t allow the running of contemporary cars outside of two promotional days covering no more than 100km, but what is called ‘Testing of Previous Cars’ allows for 2016-2018 vintage machinery to be run.
But as McLaren used Honda engines from 2015-2017 and must run in period specification, it does not have engines available. It will also not be conducting a promotional day with the current car.
“On the driver side, unfortunately we don’t have this possibility of having a car that is two years old that we could operate because of all the powertrain switches we had here in recent years,” said Seidl when asked about the possibility in an interview on Sky Sports F1’s The F1 Show.
“But as you have seen already, Lando was doing some karting and the free testing [in a Carlin F3 car] and we look into the same thing also with Carlos to have the drivers ready.
“Of course, we will do some simulator work as well with them.”
Seidl said that the race team is back up and running and that preparations are progressing ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.
The team is also working to understand the safety protocols that will be in place as part of the biosphere that will be created at the Red Bull Ring, within which teams will not be allowed to interact with each other.
Mercedes released a short video earlier today showing the firing up of its 2018 car, with team personnel wearing protective masks and maintaining social distancing.
The sound of an @F1 engine rumbles through the factory again! 🎶🎶🎶
Listen up as W09 fires into life ahead of this week's protocol test for the Team at Silverstone 👇 pic.twitter.com/3wJSd8uLqQ
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) June 8, 2020
“We started the race team again last week so we are preparing the cars at the moment and to try and to go through a lot of procedures and processes in the garage under these new circumstances with all the social distancing etc,” said Seidl.
“With what we know now with the process that has been outlined from FIA and Formula 1 in terms of how we actually execute the race weekend in Austria, we have clarity there.
“Now it’s simply important to focus on preparation in the next three four weeks and then hopefully we have a good start in Austria.”
Seidl also addressed the redundancies McLaren Group is having to make, with around 70 personnel being lost from the F1 team.
He said that these losses were unavoidable, and that work is ongoing to modify the structure of the team amid the cuts and the new $145million cost cap.
“It’s a very challenging time for all of us and with the latest announcements we did two weeks ago,” said Seidl.
“Unfortunately, the way the regulations played out, and it’s not a secret that we were heavily pushing for this budget cap to become even lower. Salaries being such a big part of the budgets, there is no way to avoid redundancies.
“On the racing side in the F1 team, we see at the moment that we lose around 70 of our valued team members in the future.
“At the same time, I think we still need more time now with regulations being fresh to work out in detail how the exact shape and size of team will look like. Of course, it’s a very painful times especially for our people.”