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Have a break; have a shutdown - respite for the F1™ world 06 Aug 2012

Lotus F1 garage surrounded by screens.
Formula One Testing, Preparations, Jerez, Spain,  Monday, 6 February 2012 Lotus factory, Enstone, UK Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Budapest, Hungary, Friday, 27 July 2012 Lotus factory, Enstone, UK Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20,
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Practice, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 20 July 2012 Lotus factory, Enstone, UK Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race Day, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 29 July 2012 Lotus factory, Enstone, UK Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL) Lotus F1 Third Driver.
Formula One Testing, Mugello, Italy, Day One, 1 May 2012

Agreed by the teams back in 2009, the enforced factory shutdown in August was introduced to give the men and women who work tirelessly throughout the season a respite from the hectic world that is Formula One racing.

With the quest for automotive perfection naturally being a time consuming process, it was deemed essential for the industry in its entirety to take a break and recharge for the second part of the year. The Lotus team explain more.

There are no excuses regarding the shutdown, with every team obliged to close their doors over the course of 14 days. This year those 14 days had to commence either on the Monday immediately after the Hungarian Grand Prix, or a week later on August 6.

Under normal circumstances, the Lotus crew - like their rivals - are in action even during gaps between Grands Prix; with new projects, forthcoming concepts and upgrades for the current cars constantly in development back at the factory, while the race team will be stripping down, repairing and tweaking the E20s ready for the next race weekend.

It’s a process which never ceases, and over the 20-race season which forms the modern calendar it comes as a well-earned rest for everyone involved; from the people who travel across the world with the race team to those back at the factory working just as hard in search of the success every member craves.

On returning from Hungary, the trucks were unloaded, the cars stripped and sent off for re-sprays where needed, and all loose ends tied off ready to get straight back to business, but come Friday of that same week it was time to pack up and head home.

Paul Seaby, Lotus’s race team manager, has seen both sides of the coin; from the relentless format adopted before the shutdown came into being, to the current set-up we see today, and for Seaby the advantages are clear to see.

“On the race team we all start to get a bit tired and grumpy around this sort of time as we’ve been on the road for so long, so the break helps to keep everyone motivated,” he says. “We all get to see our families and have a rest, which is really important when you look at the shifts our guys - and everyone in the paddock - put in over the course of a race weekend. I know the crew are looking forward to it, and they deserve the reward for all the hard work they put in.”

As mentioned previously, the shutdown not only gives the race team some time off, but the crew back at the factory as well who are working round the clock to bring new parts for the E20 throughout the season and to create the next challenger designed to propel Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjena to the front of the pack, as Ben Tiley, composite technician in Lotus’s suspension department, explains.

“Formula One is such a 24-7 industry that I think sometimes we all need a bit of a rest to regroup and recuperate from the hectic schedule,” he says. “All through the year it’s like a concentrated pocket of hard work, and while that intensity is the thing that keeps us motivated it can also be quite draining! This year has been particularly busy with the success the team has had so far and the rate of development needed to maintain that level of performance. With positive results, the workload is actually raised and remains constant with no real drop off as we aim to push the car even further up the grid. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to take advantage of the late summer we’re having this year and come back with a fresh determination.”

Once Enstone lights up again to welcome the 500 odd members of the family back to base, there’s still plenty to look forward to before the cars even turn a wheel. The race crew for example will be heading off to the Isle of Wight for a day; sailing around the coast on a treasure hunt as part of a team building programme.

Of course, eventually it’s back to the grindstone for everyone. With a week to prepare for the Belgian Grand Prix, rebuilds on Raikkonen’s and Grosjean’s rides won’t begin until the Wednesday after the break, giving the crew time to brush off the cobwebs and get back into the regular routine with pit stop practices and the like before the rollercoaster ride springs back into action with opening practice at Spa-Francorchamps on August 31.

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