Geoff, now we’re back in Europe after the first round of flyaways, what’s the process for moving the team and equipment around Europe?
First things first, the support crew will have started prepping the trucks immediately after returning from winter testing, the last time they were used, to make sure everything is in order. We then have to transfer the initial batches of equipment from the flyaway freight cases to the trucks; this began between Malaysia and China. From the moment we landed back from Bahrain last Tuesday, it was a manic rush to get everything sorted and packed for when the first trucks departed on Thursday evening. It’s a short space of time when you consider we’re transferring 30 tonnes of freight from the cases into the trucks!
How long will it take to get everything down to Mugello?
It’s a long way to Mugello – just over 1,000 miles – so much further than you might think. As mentioned the first trucks left at 18:00 Thursday evening, and arrived on Saturday afternoon. We have two drivers per vehicle, who drive for 20 hours between them before having a break and getting back on the road for the final stretch. To put it in perspective, we allow 22-24 hours for a van to get down there with any late deliveries, and the trucks are not quite as nippy to say the least!
As you’ve mentioned, it’s a very tight turnaround after the last Grand Prix; would it not be better to leave things a bit later?
We try to leave it as late as possible to release the trucks, as it’s tough going for the guys to get everything turned around so quickly having just got back from a tiring double-header, but it’s still very tight. For example; the mechanics have to get all their equipment ready to go on the trucks but they’ve also got to build the cars, while the support crew need to empty all the freight boxes as well as prepping the trucks. There’s also a lot of equipment we take to Europe but not to the flyaways, so we have to make sure it’s all available and ready to go; it all adds up very quickly.
How many trucks do we take to the European rounds? Will these be exactly the same as when we saw them at the winter tests?
We have 5 trucks in total which go to the European races, in addition to an engine truck and 5 motorhome vehicles. The trucks are the same, but will have had work done to incorporate a number of upgrades planned after their first use in winter testing. The motorhomes in particular will have been given an overhaul in line with our new branding and new features we wanted to include this year; this is done over in Germany, where they are kept when not in use.
Does the motorhome have its own team?
Yes, the motorhome is managed by a separate team to our Enstone support crew. They will already be down at Mugello setting up, and once the test is finished they’ll drive themselves over to Barcelona. They’re very self-sufficient; we liaise on planning etc. but other than that we know we can trust them to get the job done without any real input from our side, which they do to a very high standard. Once the motorhomes have left their base for Mugello they pretty much won’t go back until after the last European race of the season; it just makes sense from a logistics perspective to keep the show rolling!
What about all the sea freight we took to the flyway races? Will this come back to Enstone?
Yes, the sea freight will return in batches. For instance; the cargo from Malaysia will be back this week. Again it’s a pretty quick turnaround, as the cases for Canada will set off on 10th May. The equipment from Australia, China and Bahrain will also be here with us soon; everything needs to be checked and stocks replenished over the next couple of weeks, so it’s a busy time.
How early do the support crew need to be down at the track to get started?
Normally the support crew would have flown down on Friday, but after such a busy few weeks we decided this time to move their flights back to Saturday morning so they could have an extra evening at home. They were then in for half of that day before being joined by the electronics, radio, and IT guys early on Sunday to get the garage set up. The garage plan for Mugello is quite simple, similar to the winter testing layout, so this didn’t take us too long. On top of this, there aren’t as many restrictions during testing as there are at race weekends – you’re allowed to bring as many trucks as you can physically fit into your paddock space – which makes things easier to plan.
What about the rest of the team?
The mechanics flew out on Sunday with the engineers, with the night shift team heading straight to the circuit to start building the cars and fitting any upgrades. To make sure they can do this, the support crew had to ensure the garage and trucks were fully functional and ready to go by 18:00 yesterday evening (Sunday). The night crew have now been replaced by the day crew, with the two due to switch back again tonight. The guys will then work right through until Tuesday morning to make sure the cars are ready to head out on track.
What happens after the test is finished on Thursday? Will everything be coming back to Enstone?
Not on this occasion, no. We’ll have a complete pack down on Thursday night, but because of the distances involved we’ll have a few vans to bring the turnaround cargo back to base while the trucks will head straight for Barcelona. This makes sense from a time point of view as well, as it allows us to bring everything a day forward and begin setup on the Monday of the Spanish Grand Prix Weekend. It also gives the mechanics an extra day to complete a rebuild of the car, which is a big advantage. This is slightly different to what we’ve done over the last few years; effectively we’re treating the two events – Mugello and Barcelona – as one long event covering two locations, with all the equipment relating to each having to depart the factory at the same time.
So what about the team? Will they head straight to Spain as well?
No, the guys will be heading back home for the weekend. We’ll have contracted drivers fly in to drive the trucks to Barcelona; because there’s no particular rush we’ll only need one per truck and they should still arrive on Sunday, which is ideal as it means we’ll be all ready to get started on the Monday. The engineers will head straight back to Enstone on Thursday evening as soon as the test has finished to go through all the data and see what we can find from the car. The rest of the team will fly back on the Friday morning once everything’s packed up. The first support crew will then be heading back out for Barcelona on the Sunday, with the second crew travelling on the Monday and the Mechanics / Engineers on the Tuesday. There’s never a dull moment!