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Formula One fires up, four months late and without a crowd

Last updated 7 days ago | By Reuters

November 17, 2019 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during the race REUTERS

Formula One starts its season in Austria this week, nearly four months later than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic and against a very different backdrop even if Lewis Hamilton’s targets remain the same.

The six times world champion can equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record seven while his Mercedes team are bidding for an unprecedented seventh successive drivers’ and constructors’ title double.

SEE ALSO: F1 drivers united against racism, if not taking a knee

The Briton, who has used his profile to campaign for greater diversity in the sport and against racism, is raring to compete but aware he faces new and unexpected challenges.

“We are preparing the best way we can for what is going to be the most difficult season that Formula One and all of us have experienced,” the 35-year-old said in a Mercedes video.

SEE ALSO: No fans, just cows in campsites ahead of closed Austrian GP

Since the traditional Australian opener was cancelled in March, Formula One has agreed changes to help teams hard hit by COVID-19.

Driver moves for 2021 have been announced already, including the departure of Hamilton’s old rival Sebastian Vettel from Ferrari at the end of 2020.

SEE ALSO: Hamilton launches diversity commission