How Do Formula One Teams Travel Around The World?

People worldwide love Formula One for its speed, efficiency, and glamour. However, have you ever thought about the logistics that constitute what is arguably the world’s premiere Motorsports series? This season, the number of races was cut to 17 due to the ongoing global health crisis.

DHL Airbus A-300 Cargo Airplane
COVID-19 DHL transports Formula One teams around the world. Photo: Getty Images

The logistics of transporting the equipment of 10 teams to 20 races across five continents in a season of nine months requires extreme fidelity and precision. All current Formula One teams are based in Europe, which means that getting to and from European race venues is only a matter of using team transport vehicles on motorways.

Parts are labeled critical and non-critical

When being transported by road, the race cars are boxed up with their aero packaging removed. The vehicles are also cushioned and placed on an elevated stage to prevent them from moving inside the truck and becoming damaged. Additionally, teams transport all spare parts tools and equipment while ancillary items such as tires and fuel are delivered to the racetrack by partners and local contractors.

Between 30 and 50 tons of cargo needs to be moved for each race. Photo: DHL

For international or what Formula One calls “fly away” races, the logistics become far more complicated. The parts that need to be dispatched to the race venues are divided into two and labeled critical and non-critical. Critical are things like every component of the car and computers, while non-critical is made up of things like jacks, tools, and other mechanical equipment. Five sets of non-critical parts are shipped to race locations by sea well ahead of the races to ensure that they are ready and waiting when the team arrives.

DHL partners with Formula One

The cars are stripped down to individual parts with all the components placed in specially made foam compartments. The parts are then placed in custom-made cargo crates specially designed to fit an aircraft’s hold.

German express mail delivery firm DHL has partnered with Formula One management and the race teams to ensure the smooth delivery of the cars and parts for around 40 years. It has the transportation of all Formula One needs down to a tee, and like out on the track; it knows that it all comes down to precision and speed. Because all the Formula One teams are based in Europe, DHL uses aircraft based in Munich and London to fly the cars and part to where the races are taking place.

DHL Formula One
DHL aircraft used to transport Formula One are based in London and Munich.

To give you an idea of what needs to be transported to back-to-back flyaway races, each team has enough spare parts to completely rebuild their cars. They also have 40 sets of tires, 90 liters of coolant, 200 liters of motor oil, and 2,500 liters of fuel. Let’s also not forget about the crew who need as many as 200 meals and the ingredients required to prepare them.

Big teams need to move 50 tons

Big Formula One teams may be hauling as much as 50 tons of equipment and gear for each race. This shows that while the drivers get all the admiration, the logistics experts behind the scenes are the real heroes of Formula One.

This year Formula One lost much of its glamour to the pandemic and the safety concerns of allowing people to attend races. Let’s hope that 2021 will be better and that we can go to the races once more.

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