Wednesday, June 19, 2024
NewsThe Logistics Behind Formula 1

The Logistics Behind Formula 1

A look at the logistics involved in transporting F1 teams and all their cargo around the world twice per month.

  • DHL has been the official logistics partner of Formula 1 for twenty years, and it has been involved in motorsports logistics for over forty years.

  • The company is charged with transporting everything from garage equipment and fuel to the cars themselves all around the world.

  • Ships, trains, trucks, and planes are involved in Formula 1 transport operations.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the partnership between DHL and Formula 1, and we were invited to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve days before the 2024 Montreal Grand Prix to learn more about the logistics involved in setting up the races all around the world.

With the last race having taken place in Monaco, DHL had to move all of the cars and the race-critical equipment, about 1,2 million kilos of cargo, 6,000 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean on eight charter planes.

Before this could be done, all of the racing teams had to get their cars and equipment back to their respective factories in Europe so they could transfer them from road containers to air freight containers.

2024 Montreal Grand Prix | Photo: DHL

Given the costs and pollution associated with air freight, only the most critical items are transported this way and each team has four to six equipment kits that are spread across the continents where races are planned for the season.

Composed mainly of tools, garage equipment, and team merch, these kits are transported by sea to DHL warehouses around the world and then shipped by train or trucks to the races where they are needed.

According to Mathieu Levasseur, Motorsports Event Manager, North America, at DHL, the kit present in Montreal is the same that was used for the Miami Grand Prix on May 5. This means about 100 trucks were dispatched from Florida to bring all of the necessary items in time for the race in Montreal.

At the end of the racing season in December, these kits are then shipped back to the factories, where the teams have about three to four weeks to turn them around and prepare them for the following season.

Christian Pollhammer and Mathieu Levasseur | Photo: DHL

While almost everything was already unpacked on the Wednesday preceding the race, DHL continues to deliver “late freight” until Friday or Saturday, making sure every team has all it needs to perform on Sunday.

This “late freight” is often made up of circuit-specific parts, such as aerodynamic devices, that the teams are testing and improving at their factories until the last minute.

This impressive logistics operation doesn’t stop once the cargo has been unpacked, however since as soon as the race begins, DHL is already coordinating the next move. Due to the tight Formula 1 schedule, teams are given only 7 hours to repack everything at the end of the race, ensuring they will be ready for the next event only two weeks later in Spain.

Of course, grouping all of the races according to their location, in a North American block and then a European block, for example, would make the logistics much easier and wouldn’t require teams to have so many duplicates of their equipment, but there are a few reasons this can’t happen.

2024 Montreal Grand Prix | Photo: DHL

According to Christian Pollhammer, Senior Event Logistics Co-ordinator at Formula 1, the race schedule is established by taking into account the contracts F1 has with each country and the interests of each race’s promoters.

For example, the dates of the Montreal Grand Prix can’t be moved because of the contract between F1 and Canada, and promoters are opposed to having “nearby” races be scheduled too close together in time since this could discourage fans who have been to one Grand Prix from attending the next one only two weeks later.

This is especially true in Europe, where distances between circuits are much shorter, but it is also a consideration when scheduling races such as Austin, Miami, and Montreal.

Therefore, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the complex logistics operations orchestrated twice every month by DHL and Formula 1.


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