What exactly is a curfew in F1 and how does it restrict what teams can do during Grand Prix weekend? Why was it introduced in the first place?
While Formula 1 Grand Prix fans and spectators only see the end result that happens on the track for a team and its drivers, they do not see the small army of mechanics and engineers who literally put the show on the road.
The mechanics are usually the first to arrive and the last to go over the race weekend after the cars are built, then work through the weekend, only to have to re-pack it up and move on to the next country.
As such, race weekends can be grueling for mechanics and engineers, especially if the driver has had a major accident in practice or qualifying, or the car is not performing as it should.
But no matter what’s going on for a team, it has to abide by the curfew in F1.
What exactly is it and what happens if they break it?
What is a curfew in F1?
A curfew in F1 is a mandatory period in which teams are not allowed to allow any mechanics or engineers to work on the car.
This is to ensure that everyone is well rested and gets a good night’s sleep.
In the 1970s–1990s, it was not uncommon for teams to pull all-nighters, meaning mechanics would work overnight on the cars, only to get a few hours of sleep before the cars were ready to drive onto the track.
This is dangerous and so the FIA stepped in to ensure mandatory brakes for all personnel.
Overnight in the race, mechanics and engineers are not allowed into the paddock for the full nine hours – although they can usually be seen queuing at the paddock gates nice and early to maximize the time available to work on the cars. .
it is possible to break the curfew
At the end of a title fight, perhaps in the final race, teams want to make sure everything is perfect on the car they hope can win the championship.
As such, they want to spend as much time working on it as possible – and that means breaking the curfew in F1.
On Thursday and Friday, they are allowed to use ‘clowns’, meaning they can break the curfew in F1 and get away with it.
It’s limited to make sure teams don’t break it every race.
However, if the team should break the F1 curfew enough times, both drivers will be forced to start from the pit-lane.
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