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What is the F1 summer break? Shutdown explained

Jake Nichol August 2, 2021
F1 Grand Prix of Hungary
Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

The Hungarian Grand Prix marked the final race in the first half of the 2021 Formula One season, with teams and drivers now set to start their annual summer break. But why was it introduced and what is still allowed through the shutdown?

How many F1 races left in 2021?

Sunday’s thrilling race at the Hungaroring was the 11th event of a scheduled 23 in what is planned to be the longest F1 season in history.

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon took a shock maiden triumph to record his first win in motorsport since the Spanish round of the GP3 Series, while Lewis Hamilton battled back to record a podium finish after falling to last when he did not pit for slick tyres with the rest of the pack ahead of the restart.

Hamilton’s provisional P2 finish (because Aston Martin has made notice of its intention to appeal Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification for a fuel rules breach) puts him on 195 points.

The Brit is eight points ahead of title rival Max Verstappen, who battled back in a severely damaged Red Bull to salvage ninth.

But with still over half the planned events to run in the season, all on-track action will now cease until the end of August as the championship goes on its summer break.

Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Why was the summer break introduced?

Owing to the ever-expanding calendar and with a desire to keep costs under control, the FIA introduced the summer break to give mandated time off in season to team members.

The idea was so that they could give their work/life balance some equal footing, and allow everybody involved in the championship time to rest and recharge ahead of the resumption of racing.

It is enshrined in Article 21.8 of the Sporting Regulations, that: “All competitors must observe a shutdown period of fourteen consecutive days during the months of July and/or August.”

The only exception to this was last season when it was decided to move the shutdown to spring, as the covid-19 pandemic hit.

By moving the break from the summer, the FIA’s intention was to get as many races in as possible to have a credible world championship, with 17 races eventually forming the 2020 season.

Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

What are teams allowed to do in shutdown?

The shutdown is fairly prohibitive, with activities such as using the wind tunnel and CFD for developing new parts banned, as well as the manufacture or design of them. Only maintenance is allowed for F1-related reasons.

Teams can hire out their wind tunnels/facilities for the break, to support projects unrelated to F1, but must get permission from the FIA beforehand.

Cars can be repaired but as per Article 21.9 A, only if it is “seriously damaged during the Event preceding the shutdown period.”

Other activities such as preparing running or static show cars is allowed, but like with their contemporary cousins, no work is allowed on making or developing parts for them.

Photo by PETER KOHALMI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

When does the season resume?

F1 returns with a triple-header of races, with the next on the calendar the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa across the weekend of August 27-29.

The return to Zandvoort for the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 follows before the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 12th.

The season-finale is penciled in for Abu Dhabi on December 12th.

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.