F1 Racing - - CONTENTS - Pat Sy­monds ex­plains

How does the For­mula 1 cir­cus move its equip­ment around the world be­tween races?

This all de­pends on the type of race. In Europe we use trucks to trans­port all our equip­ment, spares and, of course, the cars them­selves. On top of this we have to trans­port and erect the ever-more gar­gan­tuan hos­pi­tal­ity units that are now a fa­mil­iar fea­ture of the F1 pad­dock.

At race venues such as Aus­tralia, the Far East and the Amer­i­cas, it is not pos­si­ble to trans­port ev­ery­thing by truck, and we term these races as ‘fly­aways’ ow­ing to the fact that the ma­jor­ity of the equip­ment has to be flown on spe­cially char­tered cargo air­craft. Of the 100,000 or so miles of travel that the freight does these days, over 85,000 miles is done by air.

Pre­sum­ably it is much more dif­fi­cult to trans­port ev­ery­thing to fly­away races?

Not so much these days. There was a time when most races were in Europe and the fly­away races were the ex­cep­tion, but in re­cent years we have in­creased the pro­por­tion of over­seas races and con­se­quently be­come much more adept at han­dling the chal­lenges they present.

All teams now are fully equipped to han­dle air­freight and have ‘pal­leti­sa­tion bays’ at the fac­tory that al­low the freight to be loaded onto air­craft pal­lets, and ap­proved con­tain­ers that are specif­i­cally shaped to fit a 747 cargo hold. These ar­eas are also ‘bonded’ to con­form to air cargo se­cu­rity reg­u­la­tions. In all, around 120 con­tain­ers are care­fully packed, Each one has a de­tailed in­ven­tory so items can be lo­cated quickly. Since all the teams carry sim­i­lar amounts, five Boe­ing 747-400F freight air­craft are char­tered for each leg of the jour­ney.

The larger con­tain­ers are gen­er­ally ar­ranged such that they don’t just be­come empty shells when they ar­rive at the cir­cuit and are un­loaded. In­stead, they are fully fit­ted with elec­tri­cal power and com­puter net­work cir­cuits, and trans­form into mo­bile ofces that sit within the garage. Of course, in For­mula 1 we have an ir­rev­er­ent name for ev­ery­thing, and these highly spe­cialised con­struc­tions are gen­er­ally known as ‘track shacks’.

As the com­plex­ity of the cars and the sheer pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the oper­a­tion has in­creased, so too has the amount of freight that needs to be car­ried. Since air freight is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ex­pen­sive, more and more of it is be­ing sent by sea. For this part of the oper­a­tion, stan­dard con­tain­ers are used and they will be filled with any parts that are low in value but high in weight or vol­ume. That in­cludes ev­ery­thing from chairs and ta­bles for the hos­pi­tal­ity suite to boxes of paper roll and even elec­tri­cal gen­er­a­tors.

When does freight have to leave the fac­tory?

The air freight will gen­er­ally leave on the Fri­day, just one week be­fore first prac­tice. The teams are re­spon­si­ble for trans­port­ing ev­ery­thing to the air­port for de­par­ture, but once un­loaded there it be­comes the re­spon­si­bil­ity of F1’s lo­gis­tics part­ners, DHL, to get it to the point of be­ing off­loaded in the teams’ garages at the over­seas cir­cuit.

The jour­ney of the sea freight is even more com­pli­cated, ow­ing to the more se­date speed of travel. The load­ing of sea freight for the race in Mel­bourne is one of the first jobs the lo­gis­tics team tackle on their re­turn from Christ­mas.

How much freight is there to trans­port?

In sim­ple terms, the an­swer is be­tween 30 and 40 tonnes, but some teams have hit nearly 50 tonnes in­clud­ing en­gine sup­plies. How­ever, air­lines charge not just by nor­mal weight but also by what is termed ‘vol­u­met­ric weight’. You can imag­ine that a large box car­ry­ing maybe a cou­ple of chas­sis and a few floors would not weigh very much, but would be oc­cu­py­ing a large area of the cargo hold. Air­lines recog­nise this and cal­cu­late that 6,000 cu­bic cen­time­tres of box vol­ume is charged as one kilo­gram ir­re­spec­tive of the fact that it may weigh less. If it weighs more, then they will charge on true weight.

We’re all used to huge charges for ex­cess bag­gage when we go on hol­i­day. How much does F1 freight cost?

We are not im­mune from ex­cess bag­gage charges for the last-minute parts that we send out with the me­chan­ics but, for our sched­uled freight, typ­i­cally we will spend just un­der £3.5mil­lion over the course of the year. This would be even more ex­pen­sive were it not for the fact that FOM sub­sidise a cer­tain weight for each team. Sea freight is much cheaper and a container with around five tonnes in it will cost around £6,000 to ship – al­though it in­volves a cap­i­tal out­lay of around £150,000 per set of equip­ment, and these days five sets are needed to keep up with our ex­pand­ing itin­er­ar­ies.

Re­turn­ing to Euro­pean travel, how many trucks are there in a typ­i­cal F1 fleet?

Five ar­tic­u­lated trucks are suf­fi­cient to carry the cars and all the pit equip­ment, al­though one of these is a ded­i­cated of­fice for the en­gi­neers. The mo­torhomes, how­ever, are a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. The days when these could be ser­viced by three trucks are long gone. Now, for the big­ger con­struc­tions, as many as 20 trucks are needed.

How many people travel with the team?

We are limited to just 60 staff who are di­rectly in­volved in the run­ning of the car. On top of this, we bring our mar­ket­ing and PR team, as well as those who cater for and look af­ter the well­be­ing of the team. It’s close to 80 people in all.

F1 teams trans­port 30-40 tons of freight per race, by air, sea and road, at a to­tal cost of around £3.5mil­lion per year

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