Formula 1 is currently enjoying a well-deserved summer break following the 13th round of the 2022 schedule, which concluded at the end of July.
There is no track action for a month as teams and drivers take a necessary step away from the dramatic circuits.
With the pair then downgraded to two and three as reigning 2021 champion Max Verstappen crashed into first place, fans believed a year of transitions between the two 24-year-olds was on the way.
However, as the season progressed it became clear that Ferrari were much further behind than previously thought and the idea of a competitive season between Red Bull and the most successful team in Formula 1 quickly collapsed.
However, other teams thrived as the season progressed, with Mercedes beginning to find their feet again, while Alpine recently edged McLaren to fourth in the constructors’ standings.
So what are teams allowed to do over the summer break and what should they be doing?
What are the summer break rules?
The summer break in Formula 1 is so important that it is written into the sporting regulations with penalties for teams that do not follow the rules.
For teams that do not have to attend or prepare for any races or official tests until the end of the summer break, there is a mandatory team factory shutdown.
The work is severely restricted, so only the basic functions are in operation. Article 21.8 of the FIA Formula 1 Regulations: “All participants must comply with a fourteen consecutive day suspension period in the months of July and/or August.”
While essential work such as servicing and maintenance is permitted, teams are not permitted to work on vehicle design, development, or parts production, including planning or holding meetings.
What should F1 teams do this month?
Well, once that 14-day period is up, it’s clear that Ferrari has the heaviest workload ahead of them.
It’s not entirely clear who is to blame for the ongoing mess pervading the Ferrari garage, but what is evident is that something needs to change drastically.
Leclerc and Sainz made some mistakes of their own and were subject to mistakes from other drivers on track, but the main issue that has affected their performance is the bizarre decisions made by their strategists, particularly when it comes to pit stops.
If meetings can resume for the Italian horses, Leclerc and Sainz must hope that the 14-day deadline has given their strategists and team a chance to reflect on how fortunate they are to let the championship slip from their grasp.
McLaren has a different problem. They had hoped to be more competitive when it came to race wins but they are struggling in the midfield and not only are they not at the front of that field but Alpine currently sit four points ahead of their closest rival in fourth place.
Two years ago, McLaren finished the season third. Now we see them struggling to stay afloat at the top of the middle tier.
They are also witnessing a major rift within their team as team boss Zak Brown makes it clearer that he hopes to remove eight-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo in favor of F2 champion Oscar Piastri.
Reports have surfaced that while Ricciardo will demand around £12million from McLaren if they want to cut his contract a year earlier than they are currently writing.
Fans of the Papaya team must hope that this summer break has not only given strategists and engineers a well-deserved break if they are to come back in full force for the remainder of the season, but also provided a much-needed ‘cooling off’ period for the growing tensions between riders and boss.
Ricciardo has been far from perfect this season and it’s hard to say exactly why. However, it’s hard to forget that he gave McLaren their first race win since 2012 and their first one-two since 2010.
At a time when a complete break is not just necessary but literally required, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for some teams.
With the Belgian Grand Prix just two weekends away, Ferrari and McLaren will face a mountain of questions to answer as they hope to move up the standings.