- The Inside Line
The long road to summerKate Walker August 1, 2014
Back in the good old days of my F1 fandom, when Sundays meant bacon sandwiches, barbecues, and a weekend spent in the company of fellow petrolheads and the BBC's programming, the summer shutdown was a massive pain in a certain body part most often used for sitting.
Even solitary weekends without a grand prix were a source of complaint, as my friends and I didn't understand why the teams couldn't just race week in, week out, for our amusement and that of countless fans just like us around the world.
But that was in the before time, in the long, long ago, when I still believed in a world ruled by logic, reason, and basic common sense.
Formula One changes you. Logic is to be laughed at, reason is just another word for excuse, and basic common sense is far too common. We F1 types want exclusive sense, to go with the VIP wristbands, paddock passes, and bottles of champagne that all too easily warp the brain as you travel the world feeling like you might be someone important.
Which is why the summer shutdown is a vital part of the calendar. Not only does every member of the travelling circus need time to catch up on sleep, to refamiliarise themselves with the faces of friends and family, and to finally do the laundry that's been in the bottom of the suitcase since Jerez, but we also need to get back into the swing of being a normal functioning member of the human race.
After six months of swanning around the globe like you own it, it becomes psychologically critical to return to a reality filled with gas bills and dentist appointments, trips to the supermarket and bathrooms that don't get cleaned by hotel chambermaids.
In the first week of the summer shutdown it is all too easy to identify the lost paddock people drifting in your midst. You can find them at supermarkets, staring at ingredients while asking what on earth one is supposed to do with food not presented in menu form. We are the ones standing at the bar asking for 'ein un uno birra cerveza biere bitte per favori danke merci'. We have jet-setter tans, but under-eye bags so big that Ryanair ask us to check them before boarding.
By the time Spa rolls around at the end of August, F1 folk have returned to human form. Friends and family have knocked us down a few pegs by refusing to accommodate any of the F1-ingrained expectation, and we thank them for it.
Just as they thank us for packing our suitcases at the end of the month and disappearing till the end of November…