For some, the F1 summer shutdown is an excuse to trade in those frequent flyer miles for a holiday in some far flung locale. For an ever-increasing number of the F1 circus, however, the summer shutdown has become the chance to have the ultimate stay-cation: multiple nights of sleeping in one's own bed.
Usually, by the end of the season, pictures of pets and family members as iPhone wallpapers have been swapped for photos of the owner's bed or sofa. What's been unusual this year is the acceleration of the process. Not only was half the paddock beset by the traditional Suzuka cold as early as Monaco, but the mantra 'x-more-sleeps-till-I'm-in-my-bed' preceded the August break, not the November season finale.
With only one more race to take into account, the 2016 season shouldn't be as punishing for paddock personnel as it has proven to be. But the logistics of the calendar itself -- the run of back-to-backs and awkward breaks between flyaways -- have contributed to a sense of mental and physical burnout far earlier than most of us are accustomed to.
Rumour has it that one of the 2016 calendar's biggest issues will be (marginally) less of a bugbear next year. Should the Canada-Azerbaijan back-to-back remain, the theory goes that Baku will precede Montreal. The journey between the two countries will be no less punishing, but if nothing else the jetlag should work in our favour, not against us.
Despite the fact that we are now in the second half of the year, very little resembling a provisional calendar has started doing the rounds. Earlier chatter about forthcoming races in Argentina, Las Vegas, and Imola has gone rather quiet, and over the course of a single week in late June, Bernie Ecclestone was quoted as saying that the 2017 calendar would feature both 18 and 22 races.
That level of uncertainty remains. Ecclestone himself raised questions about the future of the Brazilian Grand Prix in light of that country's ongoing recession -- the worst in a century -- and corruption scandals plaguing the government, while Monza and Imola continue to duke it out for the right to the future of the Italian Grand Prix.
Questions remain about Germany. In theory, the Nurburgring is still contracted to hold the event next year. In practice, that's not going to happen. In April a circuit spokesman said that the Nurburgring still "hoped" to host the race in 2017, but that costs and profitability needed to be taken into account. In other words, no.
During the race weekend in Hockenheim rumours abounded about the Sachsenring as a future host of the German Grand Prix, but if there is any truth in the rumour it will not happen in time for 2017, as the circuit is not currently FIA homologated to the Grade I standard necessary to host a Formula One Grand Prix.
Similarly, whatever mutterings there were about an imminent street race in Las Vegas should not be taken seriously with a view to 2017, if at all. Chatter about the Vegas race was at its peak during the spring, and died a death the instant Formula E announced the calendar for their third season -- a calendar that includes a virtual round in Las Vegas as part of the Consumer Electronics Show.
Either way, Formula One needs Las Vegas more than Las Vegas needs F1, and it is beyond improbable that the city will grant permission for a grand prix to take place there in the immediate future. To run a real race down the Strip, long-term planning needs to include traffic rerouting schemes, access roads for emergency vehicles, and all manner of associated bureaucratic detail, and such work is not the work of a moment.
Whether the 2017 calendar expands or retracts, the general wish in the paddock is that it gets assembled by someone who has experience of doing it all in economy class...