What is F1's summer break, why does it happen and how long is it?

Formula 1 takes a summer break after the Belgian Grand Prix but what is the summer break, why do they happen and what do teams do during them? Click here to find out.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren on a deck chair

After a run of 12 races in 21 weeks, the Formula 1 paddock heads into a summer break in August immediately after the Belgian GP.

There will be no official F1 track action for an entire month, with the teams reconvening at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort on the 25-27 August.

That means over three weeks off from the grind of the F1 circus and travelling the world, and while all involved will get to enjoy some well-deserved time off, it doesn’t mean everything shuts down for the entire period.

Paddock atmosphere

Paddock atmosphere

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

What is Formula 1’s summer break?

The F1 summer break is so vital to each season that it is written into the sporting regulations, with penalties for teams who do not adhere to the rules.

In an overarching sense, the F1 summer break is the period between the final race in July – for 2023 this is the Belgian GP on 28-30 July – until the first race back in late August or early September. This year that’s the Dutch GP on 25-27 August.

For the teams, when they have no races or official tests to attend or prepare for until the F1 summer break ends, there is also a mandatory team factory shutdown where work is severally restricted to just the basic functions to ensure the team ticks over.

This rule is implemented by Article 21.8 of the FIA F1 sporting regulations: "All competitors must observe a shutdown period of fourteen (14) consecutive days during the months of July and / or August."

In this period teams cannot work on car design, development or parts production, including planning or hold meetings.

Wind tunnels or machining parts are also not allowed to be run at any time during the 14-day period, but essential work like service and maintenance is permitted.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22, makes a pit stop during FP2

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22, makes a pit stop during FP2

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

F1 teams can repair damaged cars but need to gain FIA permission to operate, while any tasks that are not related to the F1 team are permitted.

F1 teams are allowed to activate its 14-day shutdown period at any time within the summer break, with the majority of teams opting for a middle two weeks to provide time to unpack from the previous race and prepare for the next race after the shutdown.

But F1 teams don’t need to run the 14-day shutdown at the same time, so some teams may start or finish the period earlier than others.

The summer break was still used during the COVID-19-affected 2020 season, when it was pushed forward into March and April to allow the season to start and run concurrently from July.

While the rules in the sporting regulations apply to all teams, it generally also comes into play for the FIA, race officials, suppliers, the media and other stakeholders involved in the series that ensure F1 can go racing.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-22

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-22

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Why does Formula 1 have a summer break?

Since the F1 calendar ballooned to over 20 races across each season, the summer break has been implemented to ensure time off is provided, with rules set in place to stop teams exploiting it to gain a competitive advantage.

It is also a way to keep costs in check, having been installed long before the F1 team cost cap, because it means each F1 team has to pause development and research work.

It also allows team personnel to spend time away from F1 and work, to relax and recover with family and friends, before the action resumes in the frantic run of races to the end of the season.

Given F1 teams are hard at work as soon as the Christmas break ends, it is the first genuine period to stop work for many departments in each squad. It also acts as a timely breather before the work ramps up again for the end of the season and then the focus switch to the following campaign.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

What happens during the F1 summer break?

What happens during the summer break varies depending on each department of an F1 team, but for the vast majority all work stops during the 14 days of shutdown. This covers any area that works specifically on performance or the running of the F1 team and cars from top to bottom.

Only a few departments are permitted to keep working, which are those that don’t have a direct impact on car performance: mainly marketing, finance and legal.

Outside of the mandatory 14-day shutdown period, all areas of an F1 team are allowed to operate as normal and within the usual rules and allowances of the regular season.

F1 drivers are also given the break and usually only debrief with the team on the day after the last race before the summer break and fulfil any media or marketing engagements. Then the drivers are free to go on holiday and usually return to the team factory during the week before the next race to work in the simulator.

Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW44

Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW44

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

When does Formula 1 return?

The 2023 F1 season resumes after the summer break with the Dutch GP at Zandvoort on the 25-27 August, which kicks off the final 10 races held over the next 14 weeks.

The season concludes with the Abu Dhabi GP on 24-26 November.

2023 F1 race calendar post-summer break

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

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