In the days after the final post-season test in Abu Dhabi, Formula
1 cars and staff have returned to headquarters. But the period they
enter now is not one of rest as full focus is on next year’s cars
which will hit the track in less than three months. The busiest
term of the year has hit the teams, with Williams’ Team Principal
James Vowles outlining the extent of the work that will be
undertaken in the coming months. “I think even if I offered
everyone here a month off, they wouldn’t take an hour of it,”
Vowles said. “We are continuously working on next year’s car, and
the year after and the 2026 car. That work carries on in the
background. What you see at the track is just the tip of the
iceberg. “The 60 people you see working on the car is nothing
compared to the 800 people back at Grove that are putting hours,
days and months into the programme.” Vowles added: “This is the
busiest period of the entire season. It’s the build period where
we’re getting together concepts and designs, they’ve been through
the wind tunnel and the design office and are now starting to work
their way towards production.” Don’t forget that there is no
mandatory factory shutdown for the winter period, as is the case
during the summer shutdown. Such a shutdown, however, may come into
effect in the coming years amid the ever-expanding F1 calendar. In
the winter, teams are working toward a few important milestones.
These include seat fittings for the drivers, passing the crash test
with the new chassis and the firing up of the new engine. The crash
test in particular is an important moment. Should a team fail to
pass it, the car will require major adjustments, which will result
in a costly loss of time leading up to the launch of the new car
and the test in Bahrain. A shakedown is also a key part of the
winter break ahead of pre-season testing as it marks the first time
the car hits the track and the efforts of the hundreds of staff
members are rewarded.

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