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Insight: Why Formula 1 teams are facing 'the week from Hell'

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Insight: Why Formula 1 teams are facing 'the week from Hell'
Jul 3, 2016, 11:11 AM

Over the next three days spare a thought for the F1 teams that face one of the toughest logistical challenges they have ever known.

Over the next three days spare a thought for the F1 teams that face one of the toughest logistical challenges they have ever known.

It may not look that difficult to deal with a back-to-back schedule of Austrian Grand Prix followed by British Grand Prix and back to backs are nothing new in F1. But this one is a killer because of the distance involved, almost 1,000 miles and the very fine margins on time as a result, which could have a knock on effect on the British Grand Prix if there are any delays crossing the Channel.

Driving regulations for trucks in Europe mean that they are having to hire in extra drivers to triple team the drive. This is the first time this has happened. Normally a truck requires just two drivers to cover a back to back European transfer.

In McLaren's case that means bringing in an 60 drivers. The McLaren motorhome alone requires 17 HGV trucks to move it and that will require 51 drivers.

And to complicate matters further for McLaren, the last piece of the motorhome to be dismantled, the floor, is the first piece that needs to go down in the build, so the trucks carry those components need to arrive first at Silverstone.

Red Bull Motorhome

Red Bull considered bringing its test motorhome to the British Grand Prix, but the need to put on a good show for the home Grand Prix has meant that they will use their main race motorhome. They have seen this problem coming and acquired a spare floor for it and that is being assembled as we speak at Silverstone, ready for the trucks bringing the main structure along mid week.

The cost and logistical challenge of flying the extra drivers out to meet with the convoy and then relocate them is immense, on top of the already exhausting logistics of the F1 schedule. This weekend is part of 6 races in 8 weeks, which is an unprecedented slog in the longest calendar ever at 21 races.

Add in the Silverstone test in the days following the British Grand Prix and you have a truly exhausting week to kick off this marathon eight week stint for the 'people who work in the shade' as Jacky Ickx described them last week at the FIA Sport Conference.

F1 motorhome

As an aside, many teams are reporting that it's becoming increasingly difficult to retain staff; mechanics are coming in young and staying for a few years but then moving on as the life is too hard with too much time away from home.

Because of the distance involved, there is no margin for error for the 300 or so HGVs, which make up the F1 convoy, heading for Calais and the Channel ferry crossing.

If there are delays at Calais, as there often are these days with the migrant crisis, then every hour which is lost is going to be felt at the other end. There is no contingency for French unions to strike, which has happened a lot recently with air traffic control and railways in the country, nor for French customs to introduce any delays to the system.

F1 collectively will hold its breath until the trucks appear safely on the other side of the Channel in time for the Silverstone build to begin.

F1 paddock

Many teams are concerned that there could still be trucks and cranes in the paddock at Silverstone on Thursday, which has not been seen before on the busy media day which kicks off every race weekend.

This back to back promises to be right on the limit of human endurance. Hundreds of behind the scenes figures are set to go 36 hours without sleep as they dismantle the pit garages and motorhomes in Austria tonight and tomorrow and then dispatch them to Silverstone to then rebuild them.

It may look simple on the calendar, when it is published, but Austria and Great Britain as a back to back is a brutal way to start a two month period when the behind the scenes figures in F1 will be stretched to breaking point, even allowing for the summer shut down between the German and Belgian Grands Prix.

F1 trucks

It is much harder than the back to backs like Montreal, Canada to Baku, Azerbaijan as that is 30 tonnes of freight and around 70 personnel travelling by air. Whereas this is all done by road and assembling and moving the team motorhomes is a huge logistical exercise in itself.

So a piece of advice for any driver, fan or journalist talking to one of these figures in the next few weeks. Don't tell them you are 'feeling a bit tired' !

Back to back Grand Prix distances

Budapest, Hungary to Hockenheim, Germany - 597 miles

Spa, Belgium to Monza, Italy - 538 miles

Spielberg, Austria to Silverstone, England - 974 miles

Magny Cours, France to Silverstone - 518 miles (a regular F1 back to back until 2008)
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