Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says he is “very proud” that his home country of Austria is set to host the first two rounds of the 2020 World Championship.

The Red Bull Ring is due to run races on July 5 and July 12, and the venue has been working with F1 and state and local authorities on procedures that will allow the race to happen, such as regular COVID-19 testing over the weekend.

“I’m pretty optimistic that we can start in Austria because Austria has been one of the best countries in keeping the virus numbers low,” Wolff said in a Mercedes video. “And I think they will come up with a plan of how we can race.

“I know the circuit extremely well, because I did a thousand laps there as a racing driver and as an instructor. I lived in Spielberg, being a junior driver. It feels a little bit like a second home. I love Styria, and have many fond memories from the place.

“Starting the season there makes me very proud, that Austria will be the season opener, and doing it on two consecutive weekends so that finally we get two races done. I’m very much looking forward to it.”

Wolff says a special group has been established within the Mercedes team to help prepare for a full return to work. At the moment the Brackley facility is subject to the FIA shutdown. 

Wolff expects to see a lot of changes when the staff return to work.

“We have a great task force in MGP which is structuring the life after corona, social distancing, moving desks and work places around. So it will be very different.

“I think what we have learnt is we can do a lot from home, Zoom conferences or Skype or Webex are very efficient, so I think that’s going to change in our work environment.

“Then of course we are planning the next races and hopefully getting the season started soon.”