The Formula 1 Race Fans Don’t Get to See

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — By late Sunday night time in Baku, a couple of hours after Sergio Pérez of Red Bull had received the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, a lot of the gear obligatory to stage a Formula 1 race had been methodically packed, wrapped and hoisted onto pallets, prepared to fly midway the world over.

Chartered cargo planes did the heavy lifting from there, hauling disassembled 1,700-pound racecars — and nearly anything conceivable — to Miami International Airport, the place, by Monday, the cargo had been offloaded onto vehicles and delivered to the pop-up racetrack round Hard. Rock Stadium, which can host the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday.

Getting from the beginning grid to the end line isn’t, it seems, the one high-stakes race towards the clock in Formula 1.

For the highest tier of worldwide open-wheel racing, placing on premier competitions on back-to-back weekends is an advanced logistical symphony. Behind the scenes, 1,400 tons of stuff travels by air, sea and land from observe to observe, and continent to continent, for 23 races in 20 international locations, a perpetual cycle of packing, unpacking and repacking that this 12 months will cowl greater than 93,000 miles. The lights’ flicking off initially of every race are contingent on every part, one way or the other, arriving on time, each time.


It isn’t just the automobiles that want to be taken aside and put again collectively similar to that. It is complete garages, plus the technical gear and hospitality facilities — even the climate devices — that make up primarily a modest metropolis’s value of requirements giant and small that want to be packed up. Tires, gasoline, turbines. Helmets and baseball hats. Broadcast gear. Cutlery. On uncommon events, crops.

“In some circumstances, we convey the ovens and dishwashers,” mentioned Simon Price, the trackside supervisor for the transport big DHL, which has been transferring cargo for Formula 1 for many years and been its official logistics supplier since 2004.


Planes transport an important — learn: costliest — cargo from one race to the subsequent, Price mentioned. The planes flying in from Baku this week stopped to refuel both in Casablanca, Morocco, or Luxembourg earlier than their arrival in Miami. (Yes, every part should clear customs. A number of paperwork is concerned.) The final aircraft touched down Tuesday afternoon.


This week, the groups have been fortunate, mentioned Christian Polhammer, the senior logistics coordinator for F1: Miami’s time zone was eight hours behind.

“That eight hours make a giant distinction,” he mentioned. “If you go the opposite manner, you lose eight hours.”

Ships lug units of bulkier gadgets to nonconsecutive races. The first vessel with Miami race containers arrived at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in mid-April. By Wednesday, unpacked containers lay neatly in entrance of every crew’s garages: “Sea cargo to Miami, Montreal, Austin, Las Vegas,” learn a label exterior Red Bull’s quarters.

Locally sourced and labeled forklifts — Ferrari 1, Ferrari 6 — motored to and from garages, beeping warnings as they got here and went. Crews in crew uniforms unwrapped circumstances of rims. Outside the Red Bull storage, two males inserted sensors into big Pirelli tires.


The garages themselves, the place the racecars have been being reassembled by crew members blaring music, have been off limits to outsiders, for aggressive causes. Practice laps have been only some days away. But nobody appeared frazzled. They do that nearly each week.


Last 12 months, unhealthy climate and vessel congestion delayed a ship in Singapore that had been headed to the Australian Grand Prix, Price mentioned. With the clock ticking down to practices and qualifying, DHL diverted three planes and urgently despatched workers to Singapore to unpack the ocean freight containers and hustle the cargo into airfreight ones. Everything made it to Melbourne.

But folks like Polhammer and Price can’t give attention to only a single race at a time. Interviewed in Miami, they have been already fascinated about upcoming competitions, particularly the one later this month in Monaco, the place the slim streets, Price famous with concern, “aren’t constructed for vehicles.”

The Las Vegas Grand Prix, scheduled to debut in November, will current an altogether completely different problem, Polhammer mentioned. As quickly because it ends, every part may have to be packed up and flown to Abu Dhabi, which is 11 hours forward. It will assist that the Vegas race will likely be on a Saturday night time quite than the normal Sunday slot, he added.

But he can fear about that later, after the lengthy hauls to Britain, Belgium and Brazil.


With this 12 months’s season working from March to November and requiring journey throughout 5 continents, folks like Polhammer and Price spend most of their time on planes and in resort rooms. Price, who lives in England and started his profession as a Formula 1 truck driver, estimated he will get about two days a month at dwelling. Polhammer, who lives in Austria and has labored for F1 for 16 years, mentioned that final 12 months he spent greater than 260 nights on the street.


“I like and take my hat off to anybody who holds down a household and a relationship with this job,” Price mentioned.

It is troublesome to clarify to folks exterior the logistics enterprise what they do. “They’re all like, ‘What a glamorous life-style!’” ​​Polhammer mentioned. “We are positively not a part of that.”

No different sport compares by way of transferring a lot quantity over such lengthy distances briefly intervals of time, he added.

“F1 — its deadlines do not transfer,” Price mentioned. In regular commerce, he added, schedules will be adjusted. In Formula 1, “the inexperienced flag will go on Sunday it doesn’t matter what.”


Then the packing will start once more, even earlier than the champagne is sprayed on the rostrum.

“It takes three to 4 days to set all this up,” Price mentioned, “and we pack it down in three to 4 hours.”


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