Formula 1’s mandatory summer shutdown has been moved to March/April in an effort to free up space during the year to accommodate some of the postponed races as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Traditionally, F1 teams observe a four-week period during the summer where no races take place and they are mandated to shut their factories for two of those weeks as part of an effort to save costs and allow team members time at home.
However, with the coronavirus impacting the start of the season – Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China have all been cancelled or postponed with the Netherlands, Spain and Monaco also at risk – F1 bosses are keen to reschedule these races but with a limited amount of time to do so, requested that the summer break be brought forward to March and the mandatory shutdown extended to three weeks, rather than two.
This was approved during an e-vote on Tuesday with the World Motor Sport Council giving it final approval.
“In light of the global impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus currently affecting the organisation of FIA Formula One World Championship events, the World Motor Sport Council has approved a change to the 2020 FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, moving the summer shutdown period from July and August to March and April and extending it from 14 to 21 days.
“All competitors must therefore observe a shutdown period of 21 consecutive days during the months of March and/or April,” confirmed a statement.
“The change was supported unanimously by both the F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission.”
The move has reportedly been met with criticism by some team employees who face an unprecedented calendar which could consist of 19 races in a little over six months – with multiple triple headers being considered.
F1 teams are also looking at delaying the 2021 rules overhaul as part of measures to save costs if the calendar is reduced further.