Formula 1 uses the most technically advanced racing vehicles in the world. Behind the cars and drivers, there is an entirely different kind of race taking place.
Formula 1 Champion Lewis Hamilton began racing at the age of seven. In his early start, his father bought him a fifth-hand kart which they transported to the local tracks by hanging it out of the trunk of the family car. It’s unlikely that either father or son ever imagined the demands of transport and logistics Lewis’ team would require 21 years later.
Logistics are part of racing. Over the course of the racing season, 10 Formula 1 teams, racing two cars each, travel to 21 countries across five continents. Quick math: that’s already 420 legs of transport simply to get each car to the next weekend’s track. That goes without mentioning that the cars are taken apart and shipped in pieces from one weekend to the next.
Photo: Phillip Horton, F1Reader
In addition to the cars, each F1 team travels with a set of miniature skyscrapers which serve as trackside operational headquarters. The teams must also move from venue to venue with a full suite of mechanical equipment and tools used to assemble and maintain the cars through the racing weekend.
Moving the full complement of team property across the world, sometimes in less than 36 hours, is a monumental task of logistics and planning. It’s a significant enough business that DHL has a separate department for servicing Formula 1 alone.
Racing strategies impacted by data and shipping
Championships are won by the cars on the track, but there is an entirely separate and equally important race behind the scenes. In this more subtle race, teams compete to improve car performance faster than their competitors. That optimization is accomplished through gathering, analyzing, and acting on the data the cars generate.
F1 cars generate more data than their teams can afford to store. However, teams keep their competitive edge by using data from every weekend to carefully examine every aspect of a car’s performance. Aerodynamics, suspension, engines, gear boxes, fuel efficiency and more all produce data critical to the improvement of the car.
From data, decisions are made. New parts may be fabricated a continent away, then shipped to the next weekend’s location in time to meet the team as they prepare for the next race. All the parts must arrive on the same day, often on the same morning, so that mechanics and drivers can begin preparing for an entirely new track.
This level of logistics takes a myriad of factors into account, and it’s apt that the world’s most advanced form of auto racing requires some of the most complex levels of logistics planning you’ll find in any sport. It’s a good reminder that without top level logistics and planning solution, one of the world's most spectacular sports would come to a screeching halt.
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