Teams face a logistical challenge - Mercedes

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F1 Grand Prix, GP France, Circuit Paul Ricardfr

Teams will need to master a logistical challenge in the congested 2020 F1 calendar, says Karl Franson who is responsible for the logistics of Mercedes’ race team.

Formula One released the initial phase of the heavily-revised 2020 calendar at the beginning of June. In order to get the action up and running, the sport decided to start the disrupted season with eight European races before moving to far-away destinations.

Teams' logistics experts usually have a relatively long period of time to prepare the routes carefully, paying attention to every detail. However, changes to the 2020 calendar induced by the coronavirus outbreak meant that they had to throw away their detailed plannings and start everything from scratch.

The constantly evolving situation, the permanently-changing travel restrictions defined by local authorities and the congested nature of the revised calendar present the team members responsible for the logistical operation with a mammoth challenge.

Speaking in an in-house video released by Mercedes, Karl Franson has revealed that he has spent his previous weeks with numerous conference calls to put every piece of the puzzle to the right place ahead of the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

“For the last two weeks at least I've been on the phone every day, on conference calls to our logistics provider because everything is constantly changing. With the race calendar being confirmed so late, luckily we're staying in Europe for the first eight races. Fortunately, this time, although it is a triple-header, logistically we're really classing it as a double-header.

“What we're doing is racing in Austria and then racing in Austria again. Then it's almost a quick five-hour move up the road to Budapest. Once we are set up in Austria, it's mainly like a single event for us. Although it is a double-header, we don't have to pack down and move all the equipment to another venue.”

The 2020 season will get underway with an incredibly congested calendar with teams facing a run of eight races across a 10-week period. The congested initial phase of the calendar will include two triple-headers that will force teams to work with a crew of member on future race locations while still racing elsewhere.

The strict protocols will see teams members wear face coverings, other forms of PPE, full face shields, observe social distancing while the modern motorhomes will be replaced by tents. „The set-up and pack up operations for the European [rounds], nothing really changes for us."

“Whilst we're qualifying and racing in Austria, we will have a crew of people in Budapest building a garage, building the awnings at the back of the garage for us. So when we move everything across on the Sunday night and the Monday to Budapest, we should arrive to a built garage and then we'll just have to fill the empty spaces really.

“The people that build the garage, they should be done and dusted by the time we arrive and they will be moving on to the next one. They'll be coming back to the UK and getting ready for the garage to be built in Silverstone.”

The season-opening race will not only see a different paddock without the team’s luxurious motorhome, VIP guests and journalists, but a set of strict protocols will be put in place. Teams usually have a lively interaction with the sport’s tyre supplier Pirelli and their oil and lubricant suppliers, but that will change at next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. Instead of direct interactions, drop off points will be established in the paddock where teams can collect tyres and fuel without meeting the supplier’s workers.

“Normally we would have our fuel delivered to the garage and we would send people to Pirelli to collect the tyres. It's now going to be that we'll have a drop-off point and collection point for the fuel and the tyres will be taken to a drop off point.

“Our lads will go to the collection point, collect the tyres and vice versa. Once we're finished with the tyres, we'll take them back and Pirelli will pick them up once we're clear of the area,” he concluded.