Formula One is often regarded as the pinnacle of motorsport, with cutting edge engine technology, cars made from space age materials and better aerodynamics that a jet fighter. Yet despite all these technical advances on track, the behind the scenes logistics are often undertaken in the same way as they have been for decades: by huge convoys of HGVs as the teams travel over 100,000 miles each year.
The sport was recently purchased by Liberty Media, who have attempted to make major changes to the way the sport operates. Many of these changes have resulted in significant increases in viewing figures for TV audiences around the world. Compared to the previous year, Formula One increased its total unique worldwide viewers by 10% to 490.2 million in 2018.
One area that Liberty Media has yet to make a difference is in Formula 1 betting. Compared to sports like horse racing and football, Formula 1 is significantly less popular amongst fans who like to wager on sports. This is attributed to the races being too long, too complicated and often predictable; this is despite many promotional campaigns such as bonus bets that are used to encourage new customers.
Another area that hasn’t changed much is logistics. Whilst races on other continents are served by a combination of container ships and airplanes, the European races are still served by an army of HGVs that transport the cars, spare parts, tools and computers from race track to race track. Following these articulated lorries are the huge “motorhomes” that have grown to sizes larger than many houses. These portable villages contain canteens, office space, sleeping accommodation and even entire hospitality suites.
Protecting the Cargo
When being transported by road, the Formula One cars have some of their aerodynamic appendages removed before being placed in boxes. They’re then placed on elevated platforms inside the HGV, helping to protect them from damage whilst in transit. When on the European continent all of the team’s equipment are transported by truck. Equipment that is supplied by third parties is delivered separately. For example, Formula One’s official tyre supplier, Pirelli, transports its tyres to each race itself and distributes them to the teams at the track.
Like most sports in the early 20th century, Formula One was not always well organised. The paddocks at a race weekend were hectic, and organisation of transport often sporadic. Former owner Bernie Ecclestone was the driving force behind much of what we see today. He required the articulated vehicles to be clean, branded in team liveries and be lined up with millimeter precision, creating row after row of lorries parked neater than the spanners in James May’s shed. This has helped to create a clinical and professional image of the Formula One in the 21st century, and creates a spectacle of its own for any fan of heavy vehicles.
Formula One has developed a lot over its nearly 70 year history, with the cars becoming ever more advanced. Whilst the sport continues to rely on HGVs to transport the bulk of its freight, its clinical precision and military scale makes it a fascinating side show to the on track action.