Looking at the Logistics of the race weekend
With the Formula One teams now back on European soil we tend to just concentrate on each race weekend as if the teams just suddenly appear at a given venue overnight. The truth is though that it takes a major logistics operation for any team to move from location to location, especially when they move from one continent to another.
For the drivers during back to back races it means maybe two weeks of being away from friends and family but for the other team members it can mean being away for a month, and for many it can be continuous travel and work for 2 months at a time.
Teams now travel a distance of over 100,000 miles during a season and have up to 17,000 items of equipment weighing in excess of 40 tons all packed into several articulated lorries to transport it all.
The sheer scale of moving a team is massive. In addition of each team packing all the tools and spare parts they will need for a race weekend, they will pack a further 3 cars, one spare chassis and several spare engines.
Also team accommodation has to be booked and any team can need up to 100 rooms. They also need to book hire cars, and the various facilities that they will need at each circuit. Then there is all the computer link ups, and data links which connect each team to its home base which allows engineers to monitor any potential problems during the race weekend.
During the European part of the season most of the teams ship their equipment using articulated lorries, and each individual item has to be checked on to the lorries to ensure nothing is forgotten. To give you some idea of how many items they need take with them the Williams team have said that their check list runs for just over 80 pages of items.
Most F1 fans will think of a typical race weekend running from the practice sessions on the Friday until the finish of the race on the Sunday. In actual fact the first of the team’s trucks roll into a circuit on the Monday morning so that the team can start the process of getting everything ready for the weekend.
The teams arrive in stages with normally the workshops and communications systems being set up on a Monday. The engineers usually arrive on Wednesday, with the drivers arriving on Thursday to do press and promotional work. Come Friday morning the teams are in full operation with the cars ready to begin the practice sessions.
It is not just about the cars though, as hospitality suites have to be assembled and kitted out, catering equipment has to be in place to feed the teams and their guests. In actual fact earlier this year one team worked out rather than trying to make the actual race cars more fuel efficient, it would save F1 a lot more money if they did not have to ship so much equipment when they moved from circuit to circuit.
Just to make thing even harder for the logistics teams at various times during the season there will be back to back race weekends so teams will in actual fact be organising 2 or 3 different shipments throughout the world. This becomes even more of a logistic problem when teams have to move from one continent to another.
They cannot use conventional airline planes to ship the vast amounts of equipment so they use cargo planes that are charted by Formula One Management. Teams even use their own specially designed cargo crates, which have been designed to make maximum use of the space available in the planes holds.
It has been described that the amount of transport needed for a complete season of Formula One Racing, as being similar to what is needed for a medium sized military campaign, and with the number of races outside of Europe looking to increase the logistics for teams looks as if it will become even more complex.
So as you relax on the sofa this Sunday and watch the race, just give thought for the support teams who are probably already thinking about setting up somewhere else on Monday morning.