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.
A 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 suppliers 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.
“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.”