Teams looking at introducing new winter shutdown for staff wellbeing

Jon Wilde
Snow at the Circuit de Catalunya. Barcelona February 2018.

A winter break, comprising a total shutdown of factory operations, could be introduced into Formula 1.

The sport already has a summer shutdown during the August holiday when development work must stop, and similar could follow around the Christmas and New Year period.

It would be a measure to try and offset the effects of the expanding race calendar, which is up to a record 24 grands prix in 2023.

Although team staff inevitably will have some time off over the festive period, there is nothing as yet mandated in the F1 regulations.

Motorsport.com are reporting such a proposal, intended to start from December 2023, has been made at a meeting of the Sporting Advisory Committee, but is still some way from being finalised.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is in favour, having been quoted as saying: “Many of us team principals would like to replicate what we have in the summer, at least starting at Christmas and going into the new year for two weeks.

“Obviously that’s still up for discussion. But there was a positive indication, for the wellbeing of the people.”

At least in 2022-23 there will be a longer break between seasons as the final race of this year, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, takes place on November 20 to avoid more than one day’s overlap with the football World Cup which begins that day.

And whereas in 2021-22 there was less than 11 weeks between the end of one campaign and the start of unofficial testing for the next, that will increase to just under 14 as pre-season running in Bahrain begins on February 23.

“It’s great that the season finishes this couple of weeks earlier than in the past because everyone is really at the limit,” added Wolff.

“Having this two weeks more is definitely a nice welcome, but on the other side there are many people in the factory who will work flat out between Christmas and New Year.

“But for the race team that’s clocking many airline miles, that’s a positive.”

Winter shutdown can only be a good move

If it works in the summer, there is no reason why it shouldn’t do so in the winter also.

For any team that doubted whether they could afford to ease down over the festive period and allow staff to spend time with their families, it would remove the need for any difficult decisions.

The fear would obviously have been conceding a competitive advantage. A bit like when decathlete Daley Thompson and darts legend Phil Taylor used to train and practice respectively on Christmas Day because they expected their rivals would not be.

Taking away that dilemma appears to be something of a no-brainer as the Formula 1 schedule – and the increasing demands that go with it – takes on record-breaking proportions.

Read more: F1 2023 schedule – Record-breaking 24 race calendar announced by the FIA