F1 Logistics- Factory To Circuit, How It Happens
Always wondered how the F1 show is put on?, then wonder no more, we explain what really happens to create the greatest show on earth!
For each team every race means that more than just a car and some drivers need to be go the circuit. F1 is sometimes referred to as ‘the circus’ and if you were to see all the trucks and cargo that is needed traveling down the road you could understand why. However, it is not just the road that see’s F1 goods. The air and sea also get a look in. For those races outside of Europe (fly aways) everything has to travel by plane and in some cases by boat.
Due to the distance of most ‘fly aways’ the logistics are, in some ways more simple as everything goes mainly by plane. The cars, the garage and all the equipment are loaded into purpose built freight crates and sent to the next circuit. A lot of non-essential items such as consumables etc are sent in advance by sea. This takes a lot of planning as you may well pack up more than one set of sea freight at once and send it off weeks maybe months in advance. Don’t forget anything because once in Japan for example you can’t ‘pop back’ and get it! For a European race however this is kind of possible for a lot of teams have dedicated vans that travel from the factory to the race to deliver last minute upgrades any time up until friday! Traveling team members are not safe from having to deliver items ‘hand luggage’ in extreme cases either.
The garage is made on a sunday or monday before the race by a few members of the support crew on the race team and once this has been done all the equipment, the car and the rest of the race team arrive to begin work. Often driving straight to the circuit from the airport. Every second counts!
On the other side of the paddock there is the hospitality units or as they are still referred to the Motorhomes although most do not look like a Winnebago these days! These motorhomes are a home from home to the team members and a place where the media can do there work with the team and drivers on home turf as it where. A place where the team can show off their achievements and impress people with lots of money and help convince them they want their names on the car. This means that everything has to be ready for action first thing Thursday morning. The beginning of a race weekend. Typically he motorhomes begin construction from the saturday before the race which requires the personnel to travel on the friday by plane or where applicable by van. Germany, Belgium for example. Some teams have there own vans they keep all season and that requires a few team members to leave early and drive them to the location meeting at the hotel friday afternoon.
On a Sunday after the race has finished and the cars and garages have been packed away many team members will fly home but the motorhome crews must de-construct their motorhomes before they are finished. This can take up to two days of work meaning some teams are only home for one maybe two days between races as they have to travel on the friday to get to the next venue a week in advance and begin again. For a back to back race this means many days working with little if no sleep as what is done in five days before a race and two after has to be achieved in four, Sunday-Thursday.
For all team members, race, engineering, marketing, motorhome and truck drivers a large portion of there lives are taken up with airports, planes, driving trucks and hotels. Each one of these people has to have a seat on a plane and a bed organised as well as there uniforms and suitcases. This requires a team of people who’s job it is to book all the flights and hotels and another team to distribute the uniforms. This is not only the race kit but the travel kit that is worn in between so we look like a team on and off the track. There is also the team that make sure all the trucks are in good order, organise who is driving what truck and how it is going to get there. When they are going to leave and when they are going to arrive. Although these people never leave the factory they are with out doubt the busiest, most organised and most important members of the logistics picture. They make sure your trousers fit, your shoes are right that you have a ticket to fly and can get you out of trouble when things go wrong at an airport for example. They make sure the trucks arrive on time and at the right place.
It is these people that are often overlooked when you think about the F1 circus. There is so many things that have to be considered and taken care of every day. Imagine packing up to go and see relatives 400 miles away and times it by 100. But imagine that your relatives move every other week and you have different members of your family arriving and leaving all the time. The next time you go to a race maybe stay a little longer and look at the paddock and you will see the logistics in action and just what a circus it really is.