Saturday, August 8, 2015

F1 Summer Hiatus in full-swing

All of the F1 factory doors are locked-up tight
with team personnel on holiday.
We're halfway through the F1 summer break, where the teams close the doors to their factories and everyone scatters to the four corners of the globe for a well-deserved holiday.

Next season, they might have as few as two weeks for the summer break, due to 21 races being on the calendar for 2016. Thus, next season will be the busiest in the 66 year history of F1.

Team managers met with the FIA's Charlie Whiting during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend. They would like to see the provisional calendar rearranged versus trying to fit a factory shutdown and holiday for team personnel into a two-week break.

Before the addition of the F1 race in Baku, Azerbaijan (European Grand Prix), F1 had a built-in break of three free weekends between the Hungarian Grand Prix in July and the Belgian Grand Prix in August. During this break, even the computer servers have to be switched off during the mandatory two-week shutdown. This allows both race team and factory personnel to enjoy a summer holiday.

Next year, however, the provisional race schedule allows for only two free weekends during the summer break. While this may seem to be a trivial matter to many Americans, with the global nature of F1, the rigors of travel and the European tradition of summer holiday, that extra free weekend is essential.

Consequently, some team principals have now asked Bernie Ecclestone to adjust the 2016 provisional calendar.

Recently, Claire Williams (Williams Racing) told F1 journalist Adam Cooper, "From a Williams perspective, the factory shutdown is important. The calendar is long and it's arduous, and people put their blood, sweat and tears into going racing, and they sacrifice a lot to do that. Those two weeks, regardless of anything else, allows them time with their families, to have a bit of a normal life."

Per Adam Cooper, Ecclestone said he does not anticipate any changes.

Williams Racing currently sits third in Constructors points (151 pts),
behind Mercedes AMG (383 pts) and Ferrari (236 pts).
(Image courtesy F1)
With two weeks remaining until the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps (August 23), it remains to be seen if Renault will buyout the Lotus F1 team (they use Renault engines), as they are in the midst of making the decision to form a factory works team. Renault is unsure at this stage exactly how much money they want to invest in this venture. Renault has had some issues in recent years with the reliability and/or power of the engines it supplies to teams, as evidenced by the rift between the French automaker and Red Bull racing.

Lotus F1 driver Romain Grosjean welcomes Renault buying-out the Lotus F1 team, because that would mean more investment in the team, leading to a more competitive car on the track. He told ESPN UK, "The development hasn't been as good as we've wanted (this year), but it's not down to people or brainpower because we have a lot of good ideas in the pipeline."

Could Lotus F1 become a Renault factory works team?
(Image courtesy of F1)
"The CFD, wind-tunnel and design office is working very well," Grosjean said, "but at the moment, we can't bring it on track. On the other hand, when you are thinking about selling the team, you will not continue to put money in at one stage because afterwards it's all lost."

Lotus F1 (owned by Genii Capital) has had some financial issues in regards to its debt to shareholders in the Enstone-based team and currently sit in 6th place in the Constructors Championship (35 pts). Genii Capital bought a majority stake in the team from Renault in 2009 and purchased the remaining 25 percent Renault stake at the end of 2010. They rebranded it as the Lotus F1 team in 2012. Selling the team back to Renault would pave the way for the venture-capitalist's exit from F1.

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