As I write on board the flight to Singapore for the Grand Prix, I thought it's a good time to go slightly off track with this week's column and talk about the travel in F1! Travelling is a huge part of our lives and the hours spent at airports and on planes are enough to warrant plenty of
frequent flyer miles. In fact, there's so much travel planning and co-ordination involved that we now have at least 3 companies I know who specialise in just Motorsport travel!
When you travel to a race particularly out of the UK, we really do feel like a travelling circus. Most often, the catering crew heads out on the Monday prior to the race with the truckies (many of whom don't actually drive the trucks!) to set up. The mechanics are next to fly out on the Tuesday with the engineers, drivers, management, PR and marketing teams flying on Wednesday. If you consider the fact that eight F1 teams are all UK based plus add in Cosworth, the FIA, the majority of GP2 team personnel as well as the F1 specialist media, you're talking about nearly 2000 people going from London to wherever the race is being held!
It's actually quite nice travelling to a race because you really feel the build up to the weekend when you go out with a lot of these people. It's a good chance to catch up with people from other teams and chat about each other's lives on and off the track but it's also funny because although we'll all be working within a 200 metre range of each other, more than likely you won't speak to each other all weekend until you get back to the airport for the return flight! There are other benefits to everyone travelling in a group to and from the same venues. For example on the Sunday night after every race, one of the travel companies organises a chartered flight back to London at 10pm which is extremely convenient, although as someone pointed out to me last time, it probably isn't the safest thing for F1 as a business to have 300 of its valuable workers all on a single aircraft every alternate week! The other classic cliché of F1 travel is the excess luggage syndrome! Take today for instance - below me in the luggage hold are 2 suitcases of parts I checked in plus 4 huge boxes I saw the Red Bull people checking in as well as some very strangely shaped bits the Force India guys were trying to check in! The amount of money the airlines make from us for excess luggage is massive. In fact, at pretty much every race this year we've had one of the secretaries from the office fly out with spare parts on a late flight on Friday and go back home within a few hours! All in a day's work in the mad world of the F1 travelling circus...