08/01/2013 18:20 GMT | Updated 10/03/2013 05:12 GMT

F1's Quiet Time

Just over six weeks ago I was in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at the final race of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship.

As the rain fell across the Interlagos circuit, the teams were packing up their equipment for the last time in 2012 and looking forward to a very well deserved break back home.

Many of us flew home to the UK straight after the race. A few short hours after the chequered flag fell on the 2012 season we were at 36,000 ft, heading home for the final time after a year that had seen our little team fight its way to 10th place in the Championship and, with that place, millions of dollars in prize money that could be the difference between success and failure for many years to come.

For the fans that was the end of their F1 year. The end of the Brazilian GP was their signal that there would be no more F1 until it all starts again in February, but for the teams it's a very different story.

By the end of the season most of the race team, the people who travel to each of the Grands Prix, have accumulated several weeks of time off and as soon as they've packed away the equipment back at the factory, it's time for them to put their feet up.

But for the factory team, the people who never make it onto TV but without whom F1 simply wouldn't exist, December, January and February are their busiest months.

By late November next year's race car will be very close to completion. Every year the teams design and build new cars, using every loophole or trick of the trade to claw back thousands, hundredths and tenths of seconds that can make the difference between winning and losing on track.

Visit an F1 factory in January and you will see an awful lot of very tired eyes. The deadline is immovable - the cars have to be ready to fire up and start running in Jerez, Spain on Tuesday February 5th when T01, the first 2013 test, heralds the start of the new season.

By that time, many thousands of man hours will have gone into the design and build of the new cars.

On TV they may all look pretty similar, but the difference between finishing first and last can be measured in Dollars and hours - the more time and people you can afford to have working on your car the quicker it will be.

And that is why the 'off season' is so important. It's the culmination of more than a year's work by the boffins that make F1 the technological marvel it is and it is punishing for every single person who works in the sport. The hours tick by, the deadline looms ever nearer and teams will push their staff to breaking point in the hunt for laptime.

While the fans are pining for F1 to fire up and start all over again, spare a thought for the men and women who will not see much of home until Spring.

F1 - it's all glamour baby.