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F1 teams discussing winter shutdown to aid staff wellbeing

Formula 1 teams are in talks to introduce a new winter shutdown to the sporting regulations as early as next year to aid staff well-being.

Mechanics on the grid

Mechanics on the grid

Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

F1 currently has a two-week shutdown during the summer break that is enshrined in the regulations, ensuring staff get time off through the busy season by making teams pause their operations.

Although all teams do ensure staff members get time off over Christmas and through the winter, there is nothing set in the sporting regulations that requires them to shut down through the off-season.

But as part of talks in Formula 1's Sporting Advisory Committee, where teams are represented by their sporting directors, it has emerged that a winter shutdown has now been proposed.

This would see a similar approach be taken to the summer shutdown, putting a fixed period in the rules where all teams must pause operations and staff members will get time off.

Autosport understands that discussions about a winter shutdown in the Sporting Advisory Committee have not yet reached an advanced stage, nor is there total unanimity among the teams.

But the indications have been positive, according to Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff, who felt it would be an important step to protect staff well-being.

"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," explained Wolff.

"Obviously that's still up for discussion. But there was a positive indication, for the well-being of the people."

Mechanics on the grid with the car of Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-22

Mechanics on the grid with the car of Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-22

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

With the final race of the season scheduled for November 20 in Abu Dhabi, this year will mark the earliest finish to a campaign since 2010, when the title showdown was held on November 14.

The early finish this year was a result of the FIFA World Cup, which starts in Qatar on the same day as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and will continue until the middle of December.

F1 held its last race in December in each of the past three seasons, running as late as December 13 in 2020 and December 12 in 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic forced changes to the schedule.

With only one pre-season test planned in Bahrain next year ahead of the season-opener in March 5, it is set to be the longest winter break that staff have enjoyed for a number of years.

"It's great that the season finishes this couple of weeks earlier than in the past, because everyone is really at the limit," said Wolff.

"Having this week, two weeks more is definitely a nice welcome, but on the other side, there's many people in the factory who are going to work flat out between Christmas and New Year.

"But for the race team that's clocking many airline miles, that's a positive."

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