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Thursday, July 25, 2024

How groups are fixing the logistical puzzle of F1’s triple-headers

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As soon as an anomaly in the course of the pandemic, triple-headers have now grow to be a typical fixture of the Method 1 calendar. 

The primary of three runs with three consecutive race weekends begins at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, adopted by an overland journey to Austria after which on to Silverstone.

In the direction of the top of the yr there’s a triple-header together with Austin, Mexico and Brazil forward of a fair more durable end-of-season run of Las Vegas, Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

And whereas the 2 flyaway triplets throughout the Americas and the Center East carry their very own logistical and HR challenges, the summer time run of Barcelona-Spielberg-Silverstone is the toughest to drag off.

Groups carry all the things by vehicles, and the utmost drive instances for truck drivers and logistical limitations of sure venues are all a part of a fancy puzzle that groups must resolve. The additional time that needs to be factored in for customs between the UK and France within the post-Brexit world has added to the logistical headache of the 1600km journey.

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“From Austria to Silverstone, the chassis might be stripped on Sunday evening on the circuit, in order that they’re proper again within the manufacturing facility on Tuesday morning, prepared for the manufacturing facility employees to start out,” Mercedes Head of Race Crew Logistics Karl Fanson defined to Autosport.

“Due to the customs course of we undergo now, we have now to triple man the vehicles to ensure that we’ll get again. Generally you clear customs inside an hour, typically you may be ready two or three hours.

“The paperwork and admin now could be huge. Earlier than we used to double man the vehicles however they will solely do as much as 21 hours and we will not assure to get again to the manufacturing facility in that point.”

Logistics is the unseen aspect of Method 1, but in addition requires a variety of planning and preparation

Picture by: Mark Sutton

It isn’t simply the upcoming triple-header that’s inflicting complications, but in addition the current back-to-back of Imola and Monaco. Due to the cramped confines within the Monte Carlo harbour, with just one truck and crane capable of enter the paddock space at a time, there’s a strict construct order so each workforce can construct up its motorhome and workspaces in time.

McLaren was delayed getting out of Imola, which then brought on a snowball impact that additionally delayed Alpine’s motorhome construct.

“Monaco was a little bit of a problem for just a few groups this yr,” mentioned Mark Norris, McLaren’s Director of Race Operations. “We work with F1 and the FIA on timings and it solely takes somewhat bit to go fallacious and you’ve got a knock-on impact.

“And we discovered that in Monaco this yr, and purely from our perspective, we have been somewhat bit delayed getting out of Imola. With Monaco being Monaco, as soon as you’ve got received one truck in, you have to watch for that different truck so it’s kind of tetris-y.”

For groups like McLaren, the schedule concerned in shifting from race to race is further tight as a result of it is one of many groups that simply makes use of a single motorhome unit. Mercedes deploys a second smaller motorhome beforehand used within the DTM as a secondary unit, which has confirmed significantly helpful for consecutive occasions.

“We’ve a sophisticated get together and as we arrive on the circuit we do a handover after which they transfer on, Fanson mentioned. “So on Thursday morning in Imola they left to Monaco, they got here to work on Friday and began constructing the storage.”

Dennis Reck, Fanson’s counterpart in command of motorhome logistics, added: “We have discovered fairly early that the back-to-backs are a problem, and also you begin trying into the danger of journey time and what the professionals and cons are.

“It was a superb choice to do Imola with the smaller unit and have the large one in Monaco. When the workforce arrived in Monaco on Monday, we had all the things prepared. Folks had a spot to sit down down and have lunch.”

Getting McLaren's hospitality motorhome from Imola to Monaco had a knock-on impact on other teams

Getting McLaren’s hospitality motorhome from Imola to Monaco had a knock-on influence on different groups

Picture by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Mercedes began utilizing sustainable gas for its fleet of vehicles in 2022 and lined the whole European season the next yr with vehicles operating on HVO100, or Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil 100. For 2024 it prolonged using sustainable fuels, along with McLaren, to cowl all of its wants on the circuit.

Being early adopters has added further prices and complexity by way of sourcing the biodiesel, however it’s a key aspect of its push in the direction of a extra sustainable operation, in keeping with F1’s web zero goal for 2030. Investments in biofuel are exempt from the price cap, which in Mercedes’ case additionally contains its funding in sustainable aviation gas.

“We’ve a devoted HVO truck to refuel all our vehicles, so we hold them shifting in the fitting path,” Reck mentioned. “Working with Petronas, we have now companions who provide us with gas on the go after we want it, so it is fairly helpful reasonably than attempting to search out gasoline stations that provide that.

“We have switched to Stage V turbines utilizing round 50% much less gas with AdBlue and HVO. We’re pushing actually exhausting on that, nevertheless it requires a variety of planning as a result of that HVO shouldn’t be simply discovered.”

McLaren has joined Mercedes in utilizing HVO this yr.

“It is one thing that we have now actually embraced,” mentioned Norris. “It is 75% greener, extra environment friendly. Sure, the price is barely larger, however I feel there is a trade-off with the advantages that come into it.”

That additionally mirrors initiatives by F1 itself, which has doubled its HVO fleet to 37 vehicles for this yr and has sought to cut back the quantity of freight needing to be shipped to races by its distant broadcast operations from the UK.

F1 additionally trialled a low-emission energy system finally yr’s Austrian Grand Prix primarily based on HVO and photo voltaic power, the information from which might be used to discover rolling the system out at extra races.

Imola and Monaco are forming a triple-header with Barcelona in 2025, which will pose an even greater logistical puzzle

Imola and Monaco are forming a triple-header with Barcelona in 2025, which is able to pose a fair better logistical puzzle

Picture by: Glenn Dunbar

Along with the groups, race promoters are additionally closely inspired to make their occasions extra sustainable, with 75% now utilizing renewable power to some extent.

McLaren has scaled down and revamped its {old} McLaren Model Centre right into a smaller unit, which now takes eight vehicles to maneuver it round as an alternative of 18, whereas additionally halving the variety of crew members wanted to put in and de-rig it. In the meantime, Mercedes nonetheless makes use of the unique construction with which the workforce re-entered F1 in 2010, though it has undergone a number of facelifts alongside the best way.

Norris admitted that McLaren’s earlier, mammoth unit would have made European triple-headers inconceivable.

“I do not know the way you might do this now,” he nodded. “After we had the Manufacturers Centre we had just a few double-headers, however for triple-headers we might have needed to up the manpower and have folks driving by the evening.

“We nonetheless have to do this now on a few of the double-headers, however we both try to fly folks forward or we use sleeper coaches in order that they arrive roughly the identical time whereas they’ve had their relaxation.”

The 2025 calendar will add an additional problem as Imola and Monaco are forming a triple-header with Barcelona for what might be one of the vital troublesome logistical puzzles but that squads are already interested by now. Whereas the drive from Monaco to Barcelona is comparatively quick, with the ability to de-rig and get all of the gear out of the principality in time might be difficult for all concerned.

“We do have two hospitality items out there, so it is for us to debate the place our precedence focus is,” mentioned Reck.

“The massive problem is to get the vehicles out, as a result of in the course of the takedown on Sunday evening there are a whole lot of visitors operating round. It’s difficult, however alternatively we’re grateful for a way the game is being skilled within the metropolis.”

Not all equipment now needs to be air-freighted

Not all gear now must be air-freighted

Picture by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

For flyaways, F1 groups have increasingly more shifted from air freight to sea freight. Solely probably the most essential performance-defining elements and instruments, together with the automobiles themselves, are being jetted world wide on DHL’s Boeing 777 cargo planes, that are extra environment friendly than the earlier technology of 747 jumbos and cut back emissions by 17%.

Different gear corresponding to storage infrastructure is saved in hubs world wide, together with Florida, Singapore and the Center-East, and shipped or trucked from there to the races within the area.

Most groups have six units of all the things, so whereas the European package was utilized in Imola and Monaco, the North American set deployed in Miami was despatched out to Montreal. The follow comes with an up-front value, however pays off each in transport bills and CO2 emissions.

“We’re beginning to have a look at much more of that. Why will we all the time must convey this gear or these units again?” mentioned Norris.

“It additionally takes threat away and we have seen points with the Purple Sea, Suez Canal, ships are getting held. By that in a different way we will be rather more intelligent, and that additionally helps Method 1 from a sustainability perspective.

“I do not assume for the foreseeable future it would change, however if you wish to be extra sustainable, will we nonetheless transfer 180 vehicles round Europe only for these 9 races or are these flyaway kits one thing that we ought to be for Europe as effectively?”

F1 truck

F1 truck

Picture by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

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