Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

We're not going on a summer holiday // Peter Windsor finds his voice and rails against a factory shutdown

Published by Christine

Peter Windsor recently spoke of how US F1 were keeping silent as they didn't want to get involved in the vast array of politics surrounding the sport. Bernie's concern over the lack of headlines coming from the team was unfounded, as Windsor claimed:

We’re all in the entertainment business we call F1 and there seemed little or no point in adding to the situation from the perspective of a new team.

- Peter Windsor

Fast forward just a couple of weeks, and Windsor is diving right on in to the way the sport is set up. The summer shutdown appears to be an issue of contention with the boss of US F1, as it isn't particularly convenient for them and is ultimately unnecessary. Windsor says:

"...remember the August F1 shutdown that was introduced for the first time in 2009? Well, it's happening again in 2010. Understand that most of Europe closes for August and you kind of understand the decision. Unless you're American, that is.

As in Australia, August for Americans is just another working month in which some people maybe take a week or two away. There's no nationwide shutdown, as such – not of the type that regularly afflicts massive F1 teams like Ferrari.

- Peter Windsor

I understand his point, but he also complains about how little the European factories get done over the Christmas break as well. Everyone is allowed a holiday at some point, aren't they?

The real question lies with whether it's fair for the shutdown to coincide with the European shutdown, when not all the teams are in Europe. If it is to be a compulsory shutdown, do they all have to take it at the same time? Last year, the teams were keen to retain the summer break so their employees could have some time off and recharge their batteries after months of travelling to races.

The addition of the factory shutdown came about as an answer to the restriction on wind tunnel usage plus the obligatory cost cutting measures. In the recesses of my not-very-good memory, I recall some teams not being fond of the idea at all. Whilst the race staff could take a break, that didn't necessarily mean the design and factory staff needed to as well.

Nevertheless, Windsor's problem is not that the break exists, but that it is so focused on one continent. Formula 1 is supposedly meant to be global, but definitely rotates around the European industry and audiences. There are a lot of teams based in the UK and nearby, though, so would it be fair to them to move it again?

Windsor will most likely be up against it, though. When the possibility emerged that the 2009 summer break might go missing, there was outrage throughout the paddock. Ron Dennis was particularly vocal about the extra costs involved in rotating staff due to exhaustion and even Bernie got involved in rallying for the break to remain. Now that there's no testing, it only makes sense for the shutdown to occur in the break.

It looks as though Peter is aware of the challenge he faces:

I was impressed to hear the McLaren guys say that it was a waste of time and that most of their staff had found it all very frustrating, but sadly these were lone voices: the majority of the teams, led by Red Bull, it seemed to me, are firmly committed to the summer shutdown. And so shut down we will.

- Peter Windsor

I don't know the answer to any of these questions, so I am throwing it open to you. Should the factory shutdown remain compulsory? Is it right that it fits in so well with the UK industry, and perhaps alienates other countries? What are your thoughts?

The final point I want to leave on this is from Steven Roy when the topic was brought up earlier: "I just find it odd that Windsor is complaining about something that doesn't happen for 8 months. Surely he has more immediate concerns and more important stuff to put out to the press."

Another good point.