What goes down during F1’s summer shutdown?

Published on
10 Aug 2022
Est. reading time
4 Min

Spoiler alert: Not a lot

We’re 13 rounds, 3949 kilometres and 796 laps into the 2022 Formula One season and it’s time to release the foot from the throttle and finally take a break.
We’re now a few days into what is known in F1 as the ‘summer shutdown’, but what does that actually mean? Why do we do it? And what actually goes down during shutdown?
Allow us to explain all.

What is shutdown?

To begin, let’s consult our trusty set of 2022 FIA F1 sporting regulations, which we always keep handy.
A quick glance at Article 24.1 tells us that “all Competitors must observe a shutdown period of fourteen (14) consecutive days during the months of July and/or August.”
The document then goes on to list exactly what is prohibited during this period, but it’s firstly worth noting that these rules are mandatory and apply to every single team on the grid. Any rule breakers will be served with penalties.
During these two weeks, no F1 outfit can carry out any work whatsoever related to car performance or the running of an F1 team, whether that’s design, research, development, production of parts, activities in the wind tunnel or the simulator - you name it.
Put simply, any activity that could contribute to making a better or faster car is strictly forbidden in this window.
It is even prohibited to send emails, make calls or hold meetings about any such topics.
DRONE CAM: Grove during shutdown last year

Why do we have a shutdown in F1?

There are two primary reasons for the sport’s summer shutdown. Firstly, this mandatory period of no work helps teams keep costs in check - particularly useful in the cost cap era - with expensive operations like running a wind tunnel stopping completely.
The second and more important reason though is one of rest and recovery for our team members. The F1 schedule is relentless and, with 22 races all over the world in 2022 from Monza to Melbourne and Silverstone to Singapore, there has never been a more important time to recharge the batteries.
So, these 14 days offer the perfect time to completely switch off, spend some much-needed time with loved ones and enjoy some true R & R. The beauty of shutdown is that, as it’s obligatory, everyone from the engineers to the drivers has no choice but to avoid work.
And, given it’s the same for all teams, no one can gain a competitive advantage while others rest - it’s a win-win situation for all.
With nine races in five continents across 86 days still to come this season, the summer break gives us all the chance to attack that final sector with a renewed sense of energy and optimism.

So, what actually happens during shutdown?

Well, for starters, Grove is as close to a ghost town as it gets.
However, there are exceptions to the rule, so it’s not quite lights out at our Oxfordshire factory if you will.
Given all manufacturing and day-to-day operations must come to a sudden halt, it’s the perfect opportunity for a deep clean across the factory, whether that’s in our on-site gym, the office, workshop areas or restaurant.
We can also still carry out other non-F1 performance-related activities, like site maintenance, investing in infrastructure or allowing our friends in IT the time to make upgrades of their own.
As much as it pains us to say it, the Marketing team don’t technically impact the car’s performance, so we can still crack on as normal, as can our friends in other departments such as Finance and Legal.
If you were a fly on the wall at Grove across these two weeks then, you might see some cleaning, general upkeep or above-average levels of ping pong taking place, but not much else.
It’s essentially the prime time to give Grove some tender loving care after it’s been a hive of activity for the last year or so.
Most of our team use the time to take a holiday, whether that at home or in more exotic surroundings abroad. You’ll see more Out Of Office replies (but you shouldn’t be emailing anyway!) and more phones set to Do Not Disturb than ever before.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for our drivers Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, too.
Not only do they get a well-earned pit stop of their own, but the Marketing team are also banned from speaking to them!
So, there you go. That’s everything you need to know about summer shutdown in Formula One.
We wish everyone a restful couple of weeks across the sport. We’re already looking forward to seeing you all in Spa, where everyone here at Williams will be doing our very best to attack the remainder of the 2022 season.
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