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F1 Teams Considering Winter Shutdown for Its Overworked Personnel

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Red Bull Racing team members in the garage during the United States Grand Prix

Red Bull Racing team members in the garage during the United States Grand Prix
Photo: Mark Thompson (Getty Images)

Over the decades, Formula 1 has garnered an image associated with jet-setting glamour. The 2023 season will see the world championship visit destination locales from Singapore and Shanghai to Miami and Monaco. The global-trotting odyssey will see races take place at 24 venues in total over nine months. While drivers and team executives are ferried to and from rounds in relative luxury, this isn’t the case for everyone else.

I couldn’t imagine spending three-quarters of the year on the road and having each nerve-racking round in the never-ending crucible that is modern Grand Prix racing bookended by intercontinental flights in economy. Much is said and little is ever done for the vast majority of employees waging this multi-billion dollar carbon-fiber-clad conflict.

Mercedes team members during the Singapore Grand Prix

Mercedes team members during the Singapore Grand Prix
Photo: Mohd Rasfan/POOL/AFP (Getty Images)

Autosport reports that Formula 1’s teams are discussing mandating a winter shutdown period. Presently, there is an FIA-mandated two-week summer shutdown period when each team must cease operations and every employee gets much-needed respite just after the season’s mid-point. In the off-season, the competition doesn’t truly stop as the teams develop their cars for the upcoming season. The teams generally give their staff time off from Christmas through early January, but there’s no regulation to prevent employees from being called into work. The current idea is to add an additional two-week shutdown at the end of the calendar year.

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff told Autosport, “There are many of us team principals that 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 well-being of the people.”

If Formula 1 wants to ensure that it attracts and retains the best personnel possible, its teams must guarantee adequate working conditions. A race calendar consisting of two-dozen rounds might be lucrative, but it’s not sustainable long-term for staff. AlphaTauri Team Principal said that employees should be happy to be working in Formula 1 just over a year ago. Formula 1 teams should be thankful to have employees essentially willing to abandon their personal lives.

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