That F1 break? It doesn’t exist for the teams

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After months of waiting, F1 fans were treated to two races in two weekends as we descended firstly on Melbourne and then Kuala Lumpur seven days later. Now facing two baron weekends without a Grand Prix, it’s easy for the viewing population to forget that for an F1 team, these aren’t just a couple of spare weeks off.

Formula One factories are a hive of activity twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, whether there’s a race happening or not. At any given moment, night or day, there’re people beavering away in one corner or another trying to find improvements or manufacture parts for the upcoming events.

Wind tunnels are a massive area for F1. Models of up to 60 percent in scale are used constantly throughout day and night to try out new ideas, track specific aero packages and work through setup sweeps. This year, more importantly than any other, the available tunnel time will have to be shared between updates on the 2013 cars and design and development of the new and somewhat radical 2014 cars on the ever looming horizon, so it’s crucial to make the time count.

The relative breathing space between races gives the teams their first real opportunity to evaluate, and if deemed worthy, replicate, interesting areas on competitors cars, as well as manufacturing their own planned updates.

Whatever the aero, simulation or engineering departments decide to take to the next Grand Prix as updates or race packages, the drawing office need to design for full scale, produce the technical drawings and see them through to production. Manufacturing can be anything from carbon fiber molding and trimming, machining, fabrication or casting of exotic metals, electrical or electronic component production, 3D printing (stereo lithography) or the sub assembly of a variety of parts.

All of these parts have to go through some form of detailed inspection or bench testing, before being eventually passed to the build departments or race team to go onto the cars.

In between most races with a gap of some sort, the race mechanics you see on TV each Sunday taking part in pitstops, will strip the two race cars and all of their components will be distributed around the factory’s various departments to be serviced.

Meticulously cleaned, inspected and tested, in some cases with the cars even repainted, the mind boggling array of pieces and sub assemblies are returned to the race bays to be built back up into two race cars once again.
Each driver’s mechanics build up their own cars and at the end of the week, pack them up to be shipped off again to the next event, where they’ll follow on close behind to unpack them at the other end and start over again.

So if you’re frustrated this weekend that there’s no F1 on your television, just spare a thought for the guys and girls at each team, for whom the three week break is really no break at all.

Marc Priestley can be found on Twitter @f1elvis.

Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is still two months away from beginning its 2018 season, this past week did bring about news items that filled out the 2018 grid and shed some light on individual team and car launches as the season-opening Australian Grand Prix draws closer.

Below is a recap of F1 news from this past week:

Williams Signs Sirotkin for 2018 Drive, Names Kubica as Reserve Driver

The saga of the second seat at Williams Martini Racing was finally resolved early on in the week, with former Renault Sport F1 Team test driver Sergey Sirotkin officially confirmed as a teammate to the incumbent Lance Stroll in 2018.

The announcement concluded months of speculation that saw multiple drivers test for the team in an auditioning capacity. Most notably, Robert Kubica looked to be a main contender for the seat before Sirotkin emerged as the favorite.

However, Kubica, who has not raced in Formula 1 since a devastating rally accident in 2011 left him with brutal injuries to his right arm, was named as a reserve and development driver for the team.

This announcement also completes the 2018 Formula 1 driver lineup, with all 11 teams having their seats now filled. Among those who were left without F1 drives are Paul Di Resta, who drove for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix in relief of Felipe Massa and even tested with them during the Winter months, and Antonio Giovinazzi, who filled in for Pascal Wehrlein at the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.

Former Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also without a race seat for 2018, but did sign on with Scuderia Ferrari as a development driver.

Mercedes, McLaren Reveal Dates for Their 2018 Car Launches

While most teams have not yet released dates for when their 2018 cars will be publicly launched, three notables have.

Mercedes AMG Petronas will introduce its 2018 challenger on February 22nd, the same day Ferrari is doing so, while McLaren will unveil its car one day later on the 23rd.

Testing will commence on February 26th at Circuit de Catalunya.

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