From the fact that there are 19 races held over eight months on six different continents, that the turnaround from one race to the next can be as short as one week and that each of the 11 teams will travel about 62,000 miles during the season and bring with them two cars and roughly 50 tons of stuff, could make us wonder “How on Earth can it be done?!”.
If this is not enough to impress us, what about saying that all the material shipped is enough to fill six Boeing 747 jumbo jets?
The work starts about three hours after the checkered flag falls. Once the cars have been through the post-race inspection, team mechanics strip it to the last component. The engine and gearbox are removed, along with the front and rear wings, mirrors and suspension parts. Each is placed within its own foam-slotted box. Furthermore, steadfast bubble wrap is used for protecting painted surfaces and the chassis is protected by its own custom-made cover, and placed within its own case.
It takes between three and six hours for the teams to pack it all up. Then it’s all handed over to DHL, which has to get everything to the next city. A fleet of seven jumbo jets does the bulk of the work, flying stuff, in some cases, halfway around the world. When the action is in Europe, however, where there are shorter distances between tracks, DHL will truck stuff instead.
Nevertheless, not everything goes by air or by truck. As teams typically have five or six sets of common parts (like work benches, tool trolleys, marketing material, etc.) they send it by sea. It is slower but they can send it weeks in advance, so it arrives with plenty of time.
According to Pier Luigi Ferrari, DHL’s motorsport deputy managing director, they key to make it all go smoothly is planning, planning, and more planning. And for sure it may be true, as planning not only involves logistics but also the design of all activities required to achieve any desired goal. In fact, designing a car, which can be dismantled within 3 to 6 hours, and also being able to reach more than 350 km/h, shows us how important designing is too. And that is precisely why preparations begin a year ahead of time.
It is not only awesome but also should make us consider how much could ordinary things from everyday life be improved only applying a tenth of F1 logistics’ diligence and general planning.
By: Josep Massana