Understanding F1 logistics: The race behind the tracks
The strategies and the main battle in Formula One happens around the various race tracks around the world. While there are some races which happen behind the tracks, there is one which happens in the paddock too, which is of logistics. All the cars, equipment, staff, etc. have to be moved to various cities on different continents every week. It requires the same attention to that of the main race if not less. So in this piece, I'll be discussing the logistics behind Formula One which is baffling and not any layman's work.
F1 is a worldwide sport spread across 21 cities. But the headquarters of all these companies are based in Europe. Only Haas have their factory based in the US but they do have a headquarters in the UK too. Same with Force India, they are an India based company headquartered in the UK. Most of the summer races happen in Europe, so equipments are easy to transfer by road.
In some instances such as the three non-stop Grand-Prix weekends of France, Austria and Great Britain, teams had to truck everything 1,000 miles across Europe in just three days, including setup and breakdown time. To accomplish this, each truck had three drivers to keep it moving continuously, stopping only for refuelling stops.
But some consecutive races are very difficult logistically such as the consecutive Grand Prix weekends of Sakhir, Bahrain and Shanghai, China. Both the circuits are about 4,000 miles away from each other. So for races like these the non-critical goods are packed in containers and put on ships months before they're needed as they literally take the slow boat to China and elsewhere.
The non-critical goods such as chairs, tables, kitchen equipment, etc. are shifted in 5 big different containers. They are off-loaded through cargos at the start of the year, three months before the first race. The cargos are sent to Shanghai, Melbourne, Baku, Sakhir and Montreal.
Meanwhile, teams begin packing more critical equipment even before one race is over to be flown to the next by cargo-carrying Boeing 747s chartered by Formula One. People and equipment must converge by land, air, and sea thousands of miles away at precisely the right time to make each race possible.
After the races, these cargos are off-loaded again to Suzuka, Singapore, Austin, Sochi and Mexico respectively. While at the end of the year when there are no more races left to send the cargos to send to, they are sent back to the homes of respective teams.
In the example of Sakhir-Shanghai, the logistics manager starts formulating the plan of the breakdown even before the race gets over. Things like spare parts, which are not going to be used for the race are already put in the containers. The main equipments, such as the cars are put into the cargos once the race and the inspection are over by the officials.
All the equipments required by the teams to reach the destination are first packed into three priority packages which are then sent on the first flight. After the customs checking, the teams have three days to install everything. As Shanghai is five hours behind Sakhir, teams have five fewer hours to manage everything.
Overnight, the arrangement starts and no team is allowed to start until the cargos of all the circuits reach the track. This is to ensure fair competition and security. The rest of the equipments like the IT stuff, electrical stuff etc. arrive on Tuesday and again the teams are not allowed to start until every team has their cargo on the circuit.
So because of well planning and training of the workers, Formula One is able to achieve this task every year without any hassle.