How Formula 1 Travels The World.

June 20, 2017
Atanas Nikolov

Are you a fan of speed? Do you enjoy the thrill of pushing the pedal to the metal? Even if you don’t, you may still see the appeal of sports cars. Perhaps you even enjoy watching rallies and races. But are you familiar with Formula 1?

Indeed, this sport isn’t the most popular around the States, but it surely deserves the attention. There are many things that make it unique, not the least of which is the vehicles. But let’s dig a little deeper.

What Is Formula 1?

The main reason most Americans aren’t that familiar with F1 is that it is just too foreign. And I mean that in every aspect.

For starters, there are no US teams, so that kind of removes US citizens from the experience. American F1 drivers aren’t too common either (with most seasons featuring none).

But the vehicles are also very foreign to what we are used to in the States. They are not only made for racing at high speeds (233 mph) but are also designed to go into turns without much reduction in speed. And saying they look unique would be an understatement.

In reality one of the most interesting aspects that fans enjoy is the technology of the vehicles. It can be just as important as who’s going to win the race. That’s why there are two prizes – one for drivers, one for the constructors.

Another thing is that Formula 1 is actually a team effort. Mechanics of each team take care of vehicles at certain points during the race. How fast they operate and how frequent their participation are key components to winning a race.

And finally – here in the US we are just used to more grandeur. We like spectacle and thrill, yet F1 is more of an acquired taste. Although they drive at high speeds, the whole thing may look a bit dull and slow to us.

How Do F1 Cars Get Around The World?

Yet there’s a challenge. Going around the track is one thing, but how are these vehicles transported from track to track? Since car logistics is right up our alley, we think it’s going to be a fun topic to dig in.

There is a thing to mention though. Moving these vehicles around is more complicated than you think. Every team has two cars, and additional equipment of another 50 tons.

If you are wondering what they would carry in those 50 tons, I can tell you. Forty sets of tires and thousands of liters of liquids (fuel, coolant, oil, etc.) are quite the weight. Then come the tools. They are a heavy bunch as well. And computers, too! They need those for diagnostics and settings.

All in all, this isn’t your simple auto transport job. But here’s how it’s done!

Preparation Before Transportation

After every race, each vehicle undergoes an inspection. This is done to determine if someone tampered with it. When that’s done, the real job starts.

If you thought the cars are transported as they are, you are wrong. They are completely disassembled.

The mechanics start with removing the engine, the suspension, and other parts that are easily detached. Each part has its own padded box for protection during the move.

The chassis, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Not only does it have a box, but special measures are taken to protect it against any kind of scratches and scuffs. Multiple layers of padding and covers are not unusual.

This whole ordeal is because presentation during the race is held in high regard. Sponsors don’t appreciate ill-displayed logos. And without sponsors, there won’t be races, so it’s understandable.

Logistics In Three Parts

Sometimes all it takes to move to the next track is a convoy of trucks to carry everything. This is possible when the next race is in a neighboring country, for example.

However, there are many occasions when this isn’t the case. What if the team has to move from Germany to Dubai? Surely, car haulers won’t suffice.

Air and water types of transport also serve to help. Usually, a charter plane takes care of a single team’s equipment, while a single ship can probably carry all the team’s stuff.

However, even then the equipment is separated into two categories – essential and non-essential. Some items are shipped weeks in advance (e.g. tools). Often there are already certain pieces that are waiting for the teams when they get to their next destination.

Still, there is a sort of uniformity among the different types of transportation. The containers are all the same and stacking is done in a similar fashion. So the equipment can be easily moved between being in a truck, on a plane, or on a ship.

How Do They Make It All Work?

If you think that in such a process tons of things can go wrong – you are right. And the people responsible for that know it.

The key, as they say, is in planning. This isn’t your general plan to move something from one place to another – it’s a detailed outline of every single course of action. But it doesn’t stop there – every plan, has its alternative, and then another alternative.

Just how many people take care of this? No one can say for sure, but it’s a lot. Ferrari’s team, for instance, has 80 people who do different kinds of things along the way. This isn’t counting the people taking care of the shipping itself.

So getting everything for all teams from point A to point B may easily involve over a thousand of people in the process.

Are You Interested Now?

What do you think, after you’ve learned about the entire ordeal? Does Formula 1 interest you now? At least a little bit? I definitely hope so!

As we saw, this sport encompasses more than simple driving – it takes construction, thorough planning, discipline and most of all – dedication. So it’s no wonder it’s a bit of an acquired taste. I hope you can now appreciate it!

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