Not long ago, the F1 calendar consisted of just 16 races, starting in late March and ending in early October. Since Bernie Ecclestone began inviting in an increasing number of new nations, it has grown to as many as 20 and now runs from early March to late November.
Travelling the world to go racing may sound glamorous, but it’s now an extremely intense schedule for those on the road.
Grand Prix race weekends do not start with FP1 on a Friday. For some members of the team they begin as early as Monday, when transporters arrive and hospitality centres and bespoke pit garages begin to be set up. Pretty much all the team members will be on site by Wednesday evening ready to hit the ground running on Thursday.
At the end of the weekend, the lucky ones get out on Sunday night while others, including those who arrived way back at the start of the week, will be working overnight into Monday to pack everything away.
On back-to-back races, the processes merge and it becomes a continuous grind. For some, even the usual schedule of one race every two weeks actually means just five or so days at home before the next trip away.
The expansion out of Europe, with almost all the new races being fly-aways, has also upped travelling times and added further demands with many sponsors wanting marketing teams to add extra days around these races to take advantage of opportunities in new destinations.
So the current maximum of 20 races is the acknowledged tipping point for the teams.
Any more than that and they feel the intensity of the schedule would demand a second team of mechanics and engineers to swap with the existing ones, similar to the system used in NASCAR.
Back in the days of heavy testing schedules, that is in fact exactly what the teams did, employing a separate testing team – of smaller numbers than the race team - and test drivers to do all the work.
That would not currently be suitable for races as many of the key people like top engineers and, of course, the race drivers themselves, are simply irreplaceable when the stakes are high.
Technology could, however, offer an alternative solution.
Teams have been restricted to 60 operational staff at races this season, of which at least 20 spend the sessions sitting in front of computer screens monitoring the car.
With high-speed internet and satellite communications, much of that could arguably be done remotely.
In fact, in Yahoo’s recent F1 Tech series with Dell, Caterham technical director Mark Smith revealed he now spends half the races doing just that back at base. That could save on a lot of weary travellers.
The key engineers and strategists can still be plugged in, wherever they are, and there is no reason why they could not all sit and analyse and have face-to-face discussions back at base, dialling in relevant team members at the track via online video where needed and taking turns to swap in and out for different races to handle on-the-ground issues alongside changeable teams of mechanics and crew.
A sensible solution – but even if they are back at base, that the teams would still have to be working intensely, non-stop, with little chance of a break throughout the year.
And that is why the summer break was introduced - to give all of the team a much-needed rest, not just those on the road but also those who in the factory.
Many staff back at base, from engineers to stores managers, operate on 12-hour days and work at least one in four weekends. It’s demanded as part of the role, but it’s also the culture and, for many, the passion driving their lives is to work and work to find better ways to win.
Those key factory staff members, of course, also have ways to work from home – logging in on remote servers is easy, and the capability of even a simple laptop can allow an engineer to keep on designing when they get back home if they so desire. And many do.
That level of remote operation is blocked, as best it can be policed, during the mid-season break but there is no way to stop an engineer’s mind thinking, no bans on sketch pads and nothing stopping people meeting up away from the factory. And that does happen too.
But what the mid-season break does do is at least give these intense, hard working people a chance (and an excuse) to unwind if they can tear themselves away. Even just for a moment.
And for the state of F1, that is surely a good thing to have...