#FeelTheForce - Handle with care

We discuss the challenges and costs associated with keeping an F1 team on the road with Force India Race Team co-ordinator Franco Massaro...
#FeelTheForce - Handle with care

In the latest of Crash.net's exclusive features with the Sahara Force India team over the course of the 2015 F1 season, we discuss the challenges and costs associated with keeping an F1 team on the road with Race Team co-ordinator Franco Massaro...

As someone that spends a disproportionate amount of my time unpacking and packing my suitcase, almost always throwing formerly neatly-folded-turned-crumpled up clothes in a bag as I rush to meet the check-out time, even arranging my own little bit of logistics causes me to flap.

Fortunately, my concentrated 10.55am packing dramas are minor, but it does prompt unwavering respect to those that call logistics their career, none more so than those that do so in the hugely valuable, precious cargo, trans-global world of Formula 1.

Getting drivers, team members and media from one part of the earth to the other is a heady task from an individual perspective, but when your job is ensuring all equipment, computing and, most importantly, the cars are being freighted to each race on time and in one piece, there is more at stake than your average jiffy bag eBay postage.

Nonetheless, it's a task that has become a well-oiled process for Force India Race Team Co-ordinator Franco Massaro who, over the last 12 years, has ensured the cargo arrives on time, is ready to be used by Thursday and is hastily dismantled on Sunday evening. For someone that started life in F1 as a 'truckie' in the Jordan team, it's been quite the trajectory.

"I moved to Jordan as they were advertising it and I started a role then as a 'truckie' to 'chief truckie'. No-one really drives trucks anymore, we have to keep things legal so we have to hire lorry drivers for that now. Now I am in my current position as a race team co-ordinator. Officially speaking, I co-ordinate the movements, to make sure everything gets from one event to the other smoothly."

It's certainly a daunting task from where I stand. As we journalists rush around the paddock on a Sunday evening to attend post-race media sessions, everything is beginning to be dismantled. The paddock becomes awash with crates, forklifts and trucks and echoes to the metallic sounds of tools being used. Franco describes it as 'organised chaos', but whilst it has become a standard routine for every member of every team, it isn't the swiftest of tasks.

"Each event is fairly similar in what you have to do," he continues. "From the outside it looks like organised chaos, but everybody knows what they are doing and it is well co-ordinated. That said, you get to a point at about 9 where if you look around, it looks like a bomb site!"

Breaking matters down into figures helps quantify the scale and cost associated with logistics in F1. The sport is certainly known for its lofty spending habits and the travel of the cargo alone makes a big difference to team budgets.

"We send around 30 tonnes of air freight and the cost of that for one season is $250 per kilo, but within that you can allowance from FOM depending on where you finish in the constructors' standings. For this year we have a 10 tonnes allowance, so we are looking at paying approximately 20 tonnes for the rest of the year. This means we are paying around $7.5 million on air freight alone."

F1 has attempted to keep freight costs down by introducing sea freighting for more non-essential items, with Force India using five continuous sets which will be transported around the world at various times. For instance, the set it was using in Australia had left the UK back in January to ensure it reached Melbourne for the opener, while another will make for sea in July so it can reach Singapore in good time.

"The sea freight started up 10 years ago and it was to help bring costs down," Franco continues. "We use it for the heavier items and the garage infrastructure, such as the panelling and the caballing, which aren't necessary to the car running but enhance the working practices.

"So it starts off with a few cases, but over the years most teams now have a 40 foot sea freight container of goods being shipped around. As a comparison, our sea freight costs for the entire year are just below ?200,000.

Franco's challenge is exacerbated when there are back-to-back events such as this week, with the garage being packed up on Sunday, only to be rebuilt again on Tuesday. Nonetheless, he says it helps him value his days at home more.

"You see yourself going through the season quicker. It's nice doing a single event for some time back home, but you are flying out from Australia, then back to Malaysia. The more you do it, the more you value your days back home."

So when you're watching the Bahrain Grand Prix, be aware that F1 doesn't simply stop the moment the chequered flag goes down... for many, that's just when the job is getting started...

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