Logistics in Formula 1

with the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit as an example

Anyone who wants to celebrate victories in Formula 1 first needs to ensure, they get off to a winning start. Being in the right place at the right time with 32 tonnes of material and always knowing which box contains which of about 10,000 individual parts.

This is the challenge facing the logistics experts of the teams. They hit top form when they travel to an overseas race like the Canadian Grand Prix

The grand prix circus travels with a lot of luggage. Roughly 120 crates and containers are dispatched from the WilliamsF1globtrotters Team headquarters in Grove, England on the journey across the Atlantic. During the packing, Paul Singlehurst, who is responsible for the logistics, is always extremely careful to take as little as possible – but also as much as necessary: a difficult balancing act. To make sure nothing is forgotten, he meticulously produces a list of more than 80 pages showing everything that needs to be put in the crates – from the race cars and spare engines to the paper serviettes for the hospitality service.

While the WilliamsF1 Team is packing everything together after the British Grand Prix, 50 crates with a total weight of about six tonnes are already on their way by sea to Montréal. Because it is cheaper by sea than by air, they were sent on their way immediately after the previous race in Imola. The WilliamsF1 Team trucks drive from Silverstone back to Grove, where the race cars are dismantled down to their individual parts on the Monday morning. At the same time, the HGVs are unloaded and everything that is not urgently needed for assembling the cars is gradually packed into crates and containers. “Every part has a fixed position,” says Singlehurst. “At the track, we don’t have time for any major searches.

On the Friday after Silverstone, the Boeing 747 lifts off from Stansted Airport, to the north-east of London, in the direction of Montréal with its valuable Formula 1 freight.

loadingA vanguard of the team led by Singlehurst, plus about 35 WilliamsF1 Team employees, the chief mechanics and the pit crew arrive at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the Monday morning before the race and begin to set up the pits. That includes sweeping the floor, hanging up the numerous monitors and installing the computer network with the help of 500 metres of data cable and 300 metres of power cable. The full team at the races consists of about 80 people. While the WilliamsF1Team can concentrate on three race cars and the necessary accessories, the automotive industry, with its huge production volumes, has to master amazing logistical performances every day. "The many components and modules for every single model have to arrive on the belt from more than 100 supplier operations at the right time and in the right sequence - and that's only if you count the most important suppliers in car manufacturing," says Dr. Christoph Lauterwasser from the Allianz Centre for Technology. “That means the transportsuppliers have to be integrated to an increasing extent in the production process.”

The true extent of the material complexity in Formula 1 will become clear in Montréal when the large trucks gradually start to arrive from the airport and the port. The WilliamsF1 Team takes three race cars to every grand prix, mounted on pallets for the overseas races so they fit on top of each other in the hold of the plane. There are also six or seven engines so the team is equipped for every eventuality, with a huge number of tools and spare parts. The basic equipment also includes 16 computers and 28 laptops plus 100 radios for quick communications. Not to forget 3,000 bottles of mineral water for the team and its guests. Although Canada is not always a hot race, the teams in Formula 1 like to play safe, even with their luggage.




While the drivers see the chequered flag at the Montréal Grand Prix as a sign to slow down and relax, other members of the WilliamsF1 Team crew take it as a signal to accelerate. The United States Grand Prix is on the agenda the following Sunday which means, as far as the team is concerned, that all the equipment needs to be packed up ready for transportation by midnight at the latest. The plane leaves for Indianapolis at 8:00am on the Monday morning. Last year, they sent part of the material on the trip to the United States by truck, but that was just too slow. At the end of the day, speed is everything in Formula 1, even in the preparation before the race.





Mark Webber: “Montreal is one of the fastest and most attractive circuits in Formula 1. On the straights, we reach a top speed of 300km/h and we have to brake down to less than 100km/h in just a few seconds before some of the corners. That puts the brakes under huge pressure. The wear on the brakes is higher than at almost any other track. That makes it all the more important for us to be able to rely totally on the brakes. Another risk factor is that the ideal line runs extremely close to the wall in some places. It’s a question of millimetres to avoid landing in the track boundaries.”

Thanks to Allianz- Graphics by Allianz

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