Fernley: Crucial to protect F1’s summer break

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Bob Fernley has called on Formula 1 to safeguard its summer break and ensure that the paddock is not burned out by an ever-expanding calendar.

For 2016, a record-breaking 21-race schedule has been provisionally announced by the FIA, starting with the Australian Grand Prix on April 3.

The later start to the season means that there are more back-to-back races, and the summer break has been shortened from four to three weeks.

Speaking at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, Force India’s deputy team principal said that although the sport must work to welcome new races onto the calendar, the summer break must be safeguarded to prevent burnout of his staff.

“I think it’s very important to support the commercial rights holder,” Fernley said. “We understand the challenges it faces to put a global sport on and we have to make efforts to accommodate races where we can.

“But I think also that has to be done around the teams. We run a very tight ship. Most of the teams run a tight ship.

“The travelling staff need to have that summer break and if we don’t do that we’re going to burn them out or we’re going to have to bring in a second crew. Either way it’s not good for Formula 1 or the costs of the independent teams.

“The other thing I think as well is that from a media point of view there is a certain amount of anticipation that comes after the summer break for the second half of the season and I think we shouldn’t forget the importance of that from the expectation of fans and the eagerness of fans to get into the second half.

“So I think the summer break as a whole, from my point of view and from Force India’s point of view, should be retained at all costs.”

According to a report from motorsport.com over the Italian Grand Prix weekend, the summer break will be extended back to four weeks with the shifting of races in Belgium, Italy and Singapore, whilst Malaysia will move to the penultimate round of the season.

Fernley also confirmed that Force India is close to agreeing a new deal with Sergio Perez for the 2016 season, and expects an announcement to be made before the next race in Singapore.

“I think it’s very important for us to try to keep stability and I expect we’ll do that,” Fernley said. “Vijay is working very hard now to finish off the second contract with Checo and hopefully we’ll get some news on that for Singapore.

“With the continuity and the stability of rules into 2016 hopefully we can carry the performance through.”