Formula One grid
The mid-season break is typically the time teams decide whether to push on with development on their current car or hold back and concentrate their resources on next year’s machine.
This time, because of the radical new 2014 regulations, that decision is more important than ever – but what does stopping development now really mean?
Next year’s cars have been zapping resource from the top teams since before the start of this season, but the importance of getting it right next year has led Mercedes bosses to admit they could now even have to sacrifice a continued title attack to put their all into 2014.
Lewis Hamilton is on form, and after his victory at the last race in Hungary he is now 48 points behind Vettel. Mercedes are second in the constructors’ championship, but trail Red Bull by 69 points.
Despite going into the factory shutdown on a high, with Hamilton’s win suggesting they have found a solution to their tyre issues, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff warned against pushing too hard chasing a championship that still remains a distant dream.
He claimed this week that "consolidation should be the agenda for the second half of the year, not looking at the championships" and that basically means stop working on 2013 car and put everything into 2014.
In truth, Mercedes have already pretty much done that. They, like many teams, are believed to now have just one small team on developments for 2013, and that team is now covering the whole car rather than just a focused section as would typically be the case earlier in the year.
F1 has a fast turnaround but the lead times for all teams are such that development work will have already been completed for rollout many races down the line.
By now, teams will have long finished their low downforce packages for Monza, the final European race of the season, and parts for subsequent races in Singapore, Korea and Japan will already be in production.
But realistically, that is as far as it goes.
That leaves four races - India, Abu Dhabi, USA and Brazil – where stopping development now could have significant effect.
Development focus is on aerodynamics and I am told that, in general, teams aim to achieve a gain of half a second of lap time for every couple of months in the wind tunnel. For top teams, once testing is done, it is a very quick turnaround to get parts on the car.
The problem is, little of this year’s development will cross over to 2014 - Coanda exhausts will be banned, front wings will be narrower and the overall shape of the cars will be significantly different. But work on areas such as brake duct venting, rear wing detail and even passive DRS systems could all be relevant for the future.
Mercedes are by far the most improved team this year but although Hamilton is on form, scoring 74 points in the last five races, he has still been outscored by Vettel, who claimed 83 points in the last five.
The last race, in Brazil on November 24, is still three months away, so continuing full-on development for another two months could, in theory, gain a team half a second on the opposition.
So surely Mercedes, given how close they are, should have had one last push on development - because if one team stops and another keeps going, that could play a massive role in the climax to the season...