OK everybody, now breathe. The first half of the F1 season 2018 is done and the summer holidays are here.

Technically not exactly half of the season left with 12 GPs down and nine to go but close enough.

It seems almost a distant memory that only just over six weeks ago there were still 14 GPs left to run in the season and the extreme fatigue that the team crews are now feeling was yet to come.

But yet, for many the Hungarian Grand Prix was still not the last act before the curtain call to this part of the season, before the journey home and before the sun lounger or the deckchair, accompanied by a decent sized Piña colada or a cold beer, could be rolled out, there was a sting in the tail.


Whether it was to be in the back garden with the almost estranged family or on a beach it would have to wait for another few days as the teams stayed on at the Hungaroring for a two day in-season test.

Although a large topic of conversation in the paddock centred around "where are you going for the summer break" and with the faint hint of endless mental reruns of Cliff Richard summer songs on peoples lips (the older English ones that is) there remains a very large number of issues to be sorted out during the enforced shutdown of the various team bases.

In simple terms the FIA rule states 'All competitors must observe a factory shutdown period of 14 consecutive days in July and/or August, during which time their wind tunnels and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) facilities must not be used for Formula 1 activities'.

Of course this regulation does not affect normal factory maintenance or indeed people's mind's thinking of inventing the 'next big thing'; but there are more pressing issues to be discussed during this period.

Expect to see some driver's contracts renewed or perhaps cancelled. It could also be expected that some engineers will be announced as moving teams or perhaps looking forward to getting out in the garden for an extended period.

Expect to hear of some intense bargaining going on behind the scenes between the FIA, Liberty Media and the teams regarding the future of the sport but perhaps more importantly still, all of the above aside, will be discussions around the very survival of one or two, perhaps even more, of the F1 teams themselves.

The most public battle of all was played out in and around the paddock last weekend and centred on the Force India team being placed into 'administration' and hopefully, even by the time this column is published, the future of team, including the jobs and futures of around 400 people, all with families and commitments of their own, will be secured.
Providing of course that the normal selfish self-interest of some of the other teams can be overcome.

The Force India team has been teetering on the very brink of existence for so long now that it is almost second nature to the managers and employees to cut any expenditure to the bone yet the team, apart from the occasional flat performance and result, really do over achieve in competition with their better heeled compatriots and neighbours up and down the pit lane.

More than a few teams have similar, and other, issues and the FIA, despite the ban on any F1 activity, have so far not developed a method of controlling thought or of shutting down the brain activity of those clever geniuses who may just have a notepad or laptop to hand as the aforesaid Piña colada, or three, relaxes the mind and stimulates the one hundred million or so neurons of their brain.

Renault engineers have to figure out why their power units seem to expire with amazing regularity when in the hands of the Red Bull drivers, before Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo form their own two man 'hit squad' to visit the Renault engine shop at Viry-Châtillon near Paris.

Ferrari, due to the sad demise of boss Sergio Marchionne, need the time to simply regroup as a company and Mercedes need to figure out why the Ferrari car is so much faster than their own in certain circumstances.

Toro Rosso and Honda need to do just what they are doing, just like their driving duo, and improve with each race.

Haas need to figure out just who their drivers will be next year, or at least one of them and Sauber need to think long and hard about whether Marcus Ericsson has finally had his chance of glory and if it is time to move on.

And what of McLaren and Williams? "Back to the drawing board" is the expression that comes to mind with a list for each team that will take a year or two of summer shutdowns to complete.

Perhaps when the new paddock term begins on Friday 24th August at that most magnificent of circuits, Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, the fruits of the 'holidays' will be evident.