Following a series of 12 races spanning 21 weeks, the Formula 1 crew takes a well-deserved summer hiatus immediately after the Belgian GP in August.
This respite entails a complete halt to formal F1 track events for a whole month, culminating with the reassembly of the teams at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort from 25th to 27th August. It translates to more than three weeks away from the hectic world of F1 and global travel. While all stakeholders are entitled to some much-needed downtime, it does not signify a complete shutdown of all operations.
The Essence of F1’s Summer Break
So crucial is the F1 summer break to each racing season that it’s inscribed in the sports regulations, and teams are penalized for non-compliance.
Broadly speaking, the F1 summer break spans from the last race in July – the Belgian GP from 28th to 30th July in 2023 – till the first race in late August or early September, which is the Dutch GP from 25th to 27th August in 2023.
For the teams, this break also includes a mandatory factory shutdown, during which work is significantly limited to basic functions to maintain team operations.
This downtime is mandated by Article 21.8 of the FIA F1 sporting regulations, which stipulates a fourteen consecutive day break during July and/or August. Within this period, teams are prohibited from engaging in car design, development, or parts production activities, including planning or convening meetings. Running wind tunnels or manufacturing parts are likewise banned during this fortnight. However, essential tasks like service and maintenance are permissible.
Teams are permitted to repair damaged cars but must acquire FIA approval to do so, and non-F1 related tasks are allowed. Each team can trigger its 14-day shutdown at any time within the summer break, and there is no requirement for teams to synchronize their shutdowns.
The summer break was also adopted during the COVID-19-disrupted 2020 season, during which it was advanced to March and April to facilitate the start and continuation of the season from July. While the rules in the sporting regulations apply universally, they are generally also applicable to the FIA, race officials, suppliers, the media, and other parties involved in the series to ensure smooth F1 racing.
The Reason Behind F1’s Summer Break
With the F1 calendar swelling to over 20 races each season, the summer break was instituted to guarantee some time off, coupled with rules to prevent teams from exploiting this period for a competitive edge.
The break also serves to control costs, having been established well before the introduction of the F1 team cost cap, since it requires each F1 team to suspend development and research efforts.
Moreover, it offers team personnel a chance to unwind and rejuvenate with their loved ones before the high-octane racing action resumes, heading towards the season’s end.
Given that F1 teams usually recommence operations shortly after the Christmas break, this summer break provides many departments with their first substantial hiatus. It also serves as a welcome respite before the intensity heightens again towards the season’s end and transition to the upcoming season.
Activities During the F1 Summer Break
What transpires during the summer break varies among the various F1 team departments. However, for most, all work halts during the 14-day shutdown. This encompasses any function that directly affects the performance or operation of the F1 team and cars.
Only a handful of departments – mostly those without a direct impact on car performance, such as marketing, finance, and legal – are allowed to continue operations. Outside of this obligatory 14-day hiatus, all sections of an F1 team are permitted to function as usual, adhering to the regular rules and allowances of the typical season.
F1 drivers also enjoy this break, typically debriefing with the team the day after the last race before the summer break, fulfilling any media or marketing commitments. The drivers then have the freedom to take a vacation, usually returning to the team factory in the week leading up to the next race for simulator work.
The Return of Formula 1
Post-summer break, the 2023 F1 season is set to recommence with the Dutch GP at Zandvoort from 25th to 27th August. This heralds the beginning of the final ten races spread over the ensuing 14 weeks.
The season is slated to wrap up with the Abu Dhabi GP from 24th to 26th November.
Here is the post-summer break 2023 F1 race calendar:
- Dutch GP – 25-27 August
- Italian GP – 1-3 September
- Singapore GP – 15-17 September
- Japanese GP – 22-24 September
- Qatar GP – 6-8 October
- United States GP – 20-22 October
- Mexico City GP – 27-29 October
- Sao Paulo GP – 5-7 November
- Las Vegas GP – 16-18 November
- Abu Dhabi GP – 24-26 November.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about F1 Summer Break
What is the F1 summer break?
The F1 summer break is a period of rest in the Formula 1 season, typically during August, when official F1 track events cease for about a month. This break also includes a compulsory factory shutdown for the teams, limiting work to basic functions. It is a mandated element of the sporting regulations and teams face penalties for non-compliance.
Why does the F1 summer break occur?
The F1 summer break is implemented to provide time off for teams following a packed racing calendar. It’s also a strategy to keep costs in check by halting development and research work. Moreover, it allows team personnel to spend quality time away from F1, relaxing and rejuvenating before the season resumes.
How long does the F1 summer break last?
The F1 summer break typically lasts from the last race in July until the first race in late August or early September. Within this break, there’s a mandated factory shutdown for a consecutive 14-day period during which teams cannot engage in car design, development, or parts production activities.
What happens during the F1 summer break?
During the summer break, work stops for most departments in an F1 team during the 14-day shutdown. Only departments that don’t directly impact car performance like marketing, finance, and legal are allowed to continue operations. F1 drivers also get to take a vacation, usually debriefing with the team after the last race before the summer break, fulfilling any media or marketing commitments, and then returning to the team factory in the week leading up to the next race.
When does the F1 season resume after the summer break?
The F1 season resumes after the summer break with the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, typically at the end of August. In 2023, for instance, the Dutch GP is scheduled for the 25-27 August. The rest of the season then follows with races spread over the ensuing weeks.