Getting Everything To F1 Races Requires Some Truly Insane Logistics

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This year, the Bahrain Grand Prix took place on Sunday, April 8. Three days later, every single team and all of their equipment was in Shanghai in preparation for the Chinese Grand Prix. The logistics required to make that incredible 4,000+ mile transfer happen are awe-inspiring, but Formula One pulls them off without a hitch.


The latest Wendover Productions video explores the procedures Formula One teams have to go through to get their equipment where it needs to be.

For races in Europe, teams will often truck the materials for entire buildings that are assembled on-site into hospitality suites and other supporting structures. But for so-called “fly-away” races, they have to be smarter.

Remember that Formula One is a big operation. Each team needs their mechanical equipment, spare parts, garages, lifts, generators and of course cars to be sent to every single race.

Some of the less-rare and bulky things can be sent ahead via sea, using a complicated system that involves five full sets of equipment embarking at the beginning of the season to the first five fly-away races. After the first race is done, that equipment is sent to the sixth race via sea freight so it arrives before the race.

But not everything can travel that way. Each team doesn’t have five copies of every part, tool and car. That stuff needs to fly. The flights themselves are organized by Formula One, though the teams have to pay for their space on the flight.

Well, not flight. Flights. The operation requires six full Boeing 747 freighters. For those who aren’t up on their plane models, the 747 is the massive double-decker jumbo jet that’s commonly called the Queen of the Skies. So yeah, it’s a lot of freight.


Every detail of the operation is mind-bending, so I encourage you to watch the full video from Wendover Productions. I will warn, however, that his ad copy at the end calls The Crew 2 an accurate driving simulation. That’s like calling Formula One logistics easy or me good at math.


The Old Man from Scene 24

Meh. child’s play, if you plan accordingly and have bucket loads of cash.

Logistics/Supply chain is all about effective communication and coordination of remote parties.

The folks on the ground for the teams have known about this for a year. The flights were probably chartered 6-12 months out; the inland carriers maybe several months ago. All the documentation was prepared well ahead of time as well.

In my 20+ year career in airfreight I have arranged for the export from the US the following items:

An entire brake pad assembly line from SC to Germany (nine 53' trailers over the course of five days, six flights to FRA, 13 trailers to the factory)

An MRI machine fully loaded with liquid helium from TN to CPH (liquid helium is $3.00/liter in the US, $7.00/liter in Denmark, the machine took ~500 liters IIRC.)

350 tonnes of dog food flavoring (20 trailers over four weeks, one 747 freighter charter, plus four half-charters)

Approx. 200 sporting rifles to Kiev Ukraine in 2014 with the Russians practically knocking on the buyer’s door.

A Cadillac Escalade to Paris, France

A 727-freighter of paper pulp to Trinidad.

Ten 40' container loads of hazardous agri chemicals from Arizona to Sao Paulo, Brazil.

More firearms than I can count to Thailand, South Africa, Russia, Eastern Europe, etc.

My job is essentially to control and relay the flow of information to the appropriate parties in a timely matter.

And yell at the airlines when they screw-up.