From Bahrain test to Free practice in Melbourne: What the F1 teams are doing now
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Mar 2014   |  12:21 am GMT  |  155 comments

With less than two weeks from the end of the final test in Bahrain to the first practice session in Melbourne and only a handful of days now until the freight leaves for Australia the teams are literally in a race to turnaround the test cars, parts and support equipment in time to get them to Australia and have everything in place for set-up day, writes JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan.

The factories will be 100% operational right now in ensuring that the cars leave with enough spares for the first race. For example ideally one wants 6 front wings at each race, with 4 being considered the bare minimum. Typically a team may go with 2 to 3 launch specification front wings and 2 to 3 Melbourne update wings, one of which will have probably been run at Bahrain. Each front wing can take up to 4 to 6 weeks to make from scratch so if any were damaged in the last track test production will struggle to replace it in time.

This is of course on top of any correlation issues between the track and the virtual/bench testing that was done at the factory which may necessitate last minute modifications to parts. Sometimes these modifications may be minor, for instance a strake or fence update to a floor but on occasions they may be complete assembly updates, eg new turning vanes etc.

Also this year the Teams and their suppliers have to deal with clear reliability concerns, which are in part exacerbated by the complexity of the new power units. From an operational and data analysis perspective this will probably be the busiest two weeks of the year. It is imperative that the car in Australia is as optimised as possible.

Once on the road at the beginning of a fly away sequence it is very hard to recover (even logistically) from a poor start and the first race on European soil (i.e. Barcelona) can seem an awfully long way away.

F1 Teams are excellent at the logistical complexities of transporting all their equipment from one event to another and back and forth to the factory.

For every ‘fly away’ race, which is simply defined as one where it is impractical to drive the cargo too, the teams’ air and sea freight (sea freight is only for the heavier items which they typically have duplicates or even triplicates of) many tonnes of equipment including chassis, spare parts, the internal garage and pit wall structures, computer systems, radios, catering equipment, etc.

The freight deadlines are rigidly fixed and set many weeks in advance. Any alteration to these dates are sometimes impossible and always eye wateringly expensive. As a last resort team members will hand carry smaller components if needed but customs can sometimes be difficult and one is not always guaranteed to get the part into the country.

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Good stuff James, love these kinds of stories and hope you keep them coming.


I’m still confused about how the extra 160hp for 33 secs will be or can be deployed. Another F1 correspondent mentioned “some” cars will have boost buttons controlled by the driver? Presumably this is part of that extra 160 hp that is not built ito the mapping?


Amusing,a JA site is a must read,it urges to ascertain a true worth of contributors comments?.

Relative to the fact other the Mr Allen comment the rest is all heresay,if asked have you been there and

witness to be a fact?,the answer, ney I read it about it,like I did the other day in my local rag in the sporting section reports the conversation between Dr Marko and Niki Lauda when Lauda say the Mercedes F1 V6 develops 550 bhp and Dr Marko reply Niki I would love to have 550 bhp,now can you believe anything what they have said,definitely a load of crap one can assume.

the only belief of a true statement can be attributed to that of James Allison and to some extend Kimi Raikkonen,the judgment day will be reviled in Melbourne.


Reviled is the perfect word for it 🙂


We all hope he racing will not be affected by reliability issues (meaning teams will have enough data to set up achievable goals in terms of speed over the entire race distance and the metal will not break -which often did in tests 🙁 }

In my opinion tests, and especially the last one gave us at best, a preview of qualifying order.

Let’s not forget that it will be an efficiency race so, it is possible that teams which have covered long distances even if at 2-3 sec slower pace, may have the edge over the race distance – and I am thinking Force India.


With all this talk of overheating items on cars and the importance of cooling all the items of the power unit, are we going to see cars not wanting to get too close to the car in front? Meaning the car in front at the first corner has the best chance of winning, and behind that car just a long procession of cars following at a distance not wanting to overheat pu items!


I think qualifying will be more or less irrelevant. Surely for the first 4-5 races drivers will be trying to get to the end rather than pushing the negines in Q3 and blowing up next day in the race. Even starting from the back of the grid (with a fresh engine) could see you finishing top…


As was ever the case – for one reason or another (aero, overheating, tyre wear) f1 cars have long since been unable to follow closely for lap after lap.


I too would love an article on the logistics of moving all this gear around to the other side of the world (and how they deal with European races too, I heard that the cars themselves are usually driven in the back of a transit with two drivers rather than in the trucks that will have set off a couple of days earlier)


OK noted

Yes the cars don’t go in a transporter – go figure

They go last in a separate vehicle so they can have last minute parts fitted etc

kenneth chapman

red bull could save a packet by not going to melbourne. it will be a wasted journey anyway. at least they would be saved from the ignominy of being lapped by a marussia.


Yes, but they (and indeed all the teams) need to treat Melbourne as a test. Track time is invaluable.

kenneth chapman

my comment was TIC doc.


unfortunately, I couldn’t see either your tongue or your cheek or their relative positions. My bad.


Reviewing the testing data, Alonso’s race simulation was 62 laps long, and interrupted by a red flag (which suggests he was still going on). That’s 5 laps longer than the Bahrein Grand Prix race distance. Assuming he consumed the full 100 kg of fuel, he used 1.612 kg of fuel per lap, while doing just the race distance he would have had available 1.754 kg per lap, that’s a difference of 0.142 kg per lap. Doing numbers on the energy per kg of fuel and taking into account the reduced efficiency of a combustion engine, that could account for more than a second per lap! So had he done the 57 laps of the Bahrein Grand Prix, he could have been more than a second per lap faster.

Conclusion: don’t read too much on testing times, and most important, don’t listen to these rumors on horse power and fuel efficiency.


The teams have to factor in carrying the extra fuel for getting to the grid, parade lap, potentially a 2nd parade lap (a car knackering out on the grid is not beyond the realms this season….) red flag situations and cool down laps after the race.

Ferrari now have the data to optimise that. Red Bull, Lotus et al clearly do not.


Sure that if they have to reform by going round again, the race is reduced by that lap to compensate.


To be honest, its been so long since we saw things like that I don’t even know if those regs are still in force.

Looking forward to seeing some of that unpredictability back, though! 🙂


Yes, but I think no other team a race simulation of more than 57 laps, so… Tell me if I am wrong.


Hard to tell with the amount of red flags on the last day. I’m sure the other reliable teams ran something similar at some point over the test. But equally I don’t remember the last time we ever heard a Ferrari driver being told to save fuel in a race so I don’t buy into them suddenly developing a thirsty engine. Rather that they are very thorough in testing this area.


I hear Williams preparations are deciding to either extend or build a new trophy cabinet.


Can anyone shed some light, maybe even James on the 2nd car for each team, for example, which driver gets the brand new car that has done no testing so far, or is the car that has been at the three tests put aside and 2 new chassis used for australia? cheers


Mark Webber used to get the untested car, unless it proved to be faster


Quit the petulant whining. Vettel’s car was as unreliable as Webbers over their five years together at Red Bull.

kenneth chapman

it was also faster.


Wow James! 6 weeks for a front wing


Question for you James. Which part of the car gets the most development attention in the course of the season and which parts are mostly affected by the characteristics of the track?


I would guess front wing gets the most attention

I’ll see if I can get an answer on this


Yes the front wing is highly developed, and of course most of the downforce is created by the floor and diffuser so the whole has to work in concert. – It has to be a properly integrated design.


I would say the floor and diffuser…


The floor and diffuser can’t work properly if the front wing is not channelling air efficiently – Macca found that out last year, when their 3 element wing was causing the floor to stall.

Without a good front wing design, the rest of the car won’t work properly – after all, the front axle zone is the first part of the car to penetrate the air.


This highlights the absurdity of fuel economy for such a sport. The logistical cost of transporting the F1 circus around the world is indeed eyewatering and makes a nonsense of any such pretensions. There may well be areas that potentially may benefit from F1 technology, but the simple truth is that is developed in a fragile way for a race car to be directly appropriate, road cars have to be many times more reliable, and meet the appropriate safety standards. Those that plan these things I have no doubt earn their salary!


The idea of fuel economy is not that it saves money within F1. Clearly it does not. The cost of the new engines will vastly exceed the tiny amount saved in fuel.

The idea is that the fuel economy measures developed in F1 will eventually show up in real world cars and save fuel for hundreds of millions of motorists.


Well that’s the ploy but the motor industry are more than capable of developing hybrid technology remote from F1 as they’ve ably demonstrated. The only problem is car customers don’t have the deep pockets usually associtated. – In short it’s just a game they feel they aught to play or be seen to be doing.

kenneth chapman

you are quite right richard. manu’s are well on the way with the technology. the ‘green/eco’ F1 side show is pure theatre for the impressionable.


Don’t worry: Jenson always turns off his household appliances while he’s away.

World saved 🙂


Yes, but what about when he’s in his motor-home on a grand prix weekend? Or when he’s in the Macca motor-home? That’s an awful lot of electricity, water, et al being used!


Good question.

I would guess that drinking tea is okay, Red Bull less so…


Is Jenson allowed to drink tea? I say that because McLaren contracts are very, very specific.


Just to be clear I think it’s a good thing that Jenson (and probably some others) do this, but at the end of the day it really is just a drop in the ocean.


Pfft, a trifle compared to how much electricity Jenson saves by turning off his kettle before he leaves.


Theres nothing absurd about Fuel Economy for the cars, F1 is selling an image to the consumer and that image is one which includes fuel economy and green technology, this will influence consumers which is why manufacturers participate.

kenneth chapman

F1 should simply be about racing. anything else is a distraction. does anyone really think that out there in amongst the masses anyone is going to actually race out and buy a hybrid as a result of an F1 race/races? dream on.

kenneth chapman

@matth….pure and simple,brand identification. the old adage ‘win on sunday sell on monday’ has proved to be a myth in todays market.


I suggest you ask yourself why major manufacturers take part in the sport, there is a commercial reason, they dont do it for fun!


I really don’t buy it. Car manufacturers are well able to develop their cars in any direction that suits including hybrid technology providing there’s a market for it. The trouble is most people don’t want to afford it unless of course they can make very car like that and bring costs down, however I suspect for the time being it is a complexity most people can live without.


…and there’s me thinking the road cars were desinged to fail like F1 cars do.

Only they’re designed to fail a month after the warranty runs out and designed to be impossible to fix by anyone but the manufacturer. 😉


All products have a design life but road cars have never been better than they are today. They are designed for assembly or manufacture.

I think you would be upset if your car packed in having done less than a thousand miles.


International shipping is equitable to 3% of CO2 emissions. Commercial Air travel equates to about 1.6%. Cars contribute as much as 10%. If the technology from f1 trickles down and reduces that figure for cars worldwide then it will make a difference. I don’t expect it to be immediately apparent next year, but in 20 years, who knows! Apparently though energy supply (heat and electric for our homes), is the biggest source of greenhouse gases; burning coal, gas and oil equates to 26%.. So if we all lived one degree cooler in our homes, f1 could use v12s at unlimited revs and not feel guilty about it. (Those figures are obtained from my friend Mr Google so I can’t verify their accuracy.)


I’m being a bit flippant here, but what about the emissions from those cows in the fields next to Silverstone, Hungaroring, Spa and Austin?


Eat steak. Save the world.


CO2 emissions are not an issue for cars… they burn about 6% of the crude oil consumption. The rest is turned into plastic bags 🙂 by the chemical industry. And don’t forget the coal burned for the so much advertised “clean” electric motors – coal also burns into CO2 and water.


Our buildings are responsible for 40% of total energy use (in EU according to IEA).

Maybe F1 teams should be made to find ways to reduce the energy usage of their hospitality/garages units first?


In the EU I can see it would be larger than in parts of the developing world where people don’t have heat and light etc.

Here’s a thought – a nuclear F1 car? If it works for submarines…


F1 race car fuel usage is just like a grain of sand in the Sahara. The car industry is perfectly capable fo developing hybrid technology without F1 assuming there is someone out there that wants to afford it.

Tom in adelaide

Check out to see how engineering in the extreme can end up benefiting us all.


I’m with you there Richard on the “travelling the globe” comments. I think it’s a bit absurd to be honest. I’m glad Korea has dropped out of the calender, and to be honest I think India is not prepared as a country for a grand prix (sewage in the kitchens comes to mind). Also I question the validity of a grand prix in Bahrain too, and Russia has a few questions marks. Time to bring back the likes of Imola and Magny Cours? Trouble is, who would pay the license fee?

That’s the catch 22: all these grand prix in far flung corners of the world have governments willing to pay a fortune to Mr E/FOM for the prestige of holding a grand prix – I guess that’s free market capitalism I suppose.


I wonder if this Russian “movement” continues will the grand prix at Sochi is called off?

Could the western governments put pressure on the F1 circus to not go? They did at Bahrain 2011, and also South Africa after 1985, so who knows?


I hear the next Russian GP will be held in their newly-adopted state of Ukraine.


Holy crap James, I though you were joking…


Then in the soon to be adopted state of Azerbaijan, it seems


Your comments are so true but do you think the mclaren p1 or the new porsch would be hybrid if it wasn’t for f1.


Those cars whilst incredible are just play things. Hybrid technology can and has been developed independantly of F1, but it comes at a premium most people don’t want to afford.


James, what about building the second car? Would this already have been done, shaken down and tested in Bahrain, or is there a possibility that some teams shakedown their second car in FP1?


Most of the will have had it running already, but if you are late you might be in the situation you suggest

We will see in Melbourne


A follow up: Will the car (chassis to be precise) that has been used in testing and the one being newly made without full testing till now, be different as one has been thoroughly tested and the other isn’t? If so, how would the teams decide which driver gets the “favorable” one?


Does anyone else think the current crop of front wings is bordering on the totally insane? If it takes a top team more than a month to build one, something’s wrong. There are just too many components. Additionally, it’s clear that the aero gurus don’t fully understand these things because they change nearly every week and not two teams use the same design. They are beautiful works of art, but isn’t it time to tame the front wing design frenzy?

I wonder how much money would be saved with a simple wing rule which would include a constant-chord (or nearly so), two element (maximum) front wing with simple end plates; no extra vanes, vents, flips, flaps, gills, gee-gaws, doo-dads, leprechaun seats, and pooper-scooper jaws. Plus, a rule which says you have to use the same wing design for at least three races.


Freeze this, freeze that, why don’t you just give everybody a standard car? Save money!


Briliant idea, SteveS, I’ve always been of the opinion the wings are too wide, too complicated, too prone to damage, too likley to damage other competitors’ tyres etc., etc., so should be MUCH smaller and simpler!



“If it takes a top team more than a month to build one, something’s wrong.”

Red Bull can knock one out in three days, tops. I’m sure the other big teams can do likewise. I don’t know where JA got that four week number.

There’s a series of youtube videos on building an F1 car …

“I wonder how much money would be saved with a simple wing rule which would include a constant-chord”

I wonder how much money would be saved if F1 went full spec series and had 22 drivers running around in Porsche Turbo S’s. A lot, I’m sure. But the result wouldn’t be F1, would it? F1 is supposed to be about excess and extravagance. If you want to watch a spec car series there are already loads of them for you to choose from.


Wow, never heard the words gee-gaw and doo-dad before. I do agree with yours sentiment and I bet Ferrari would agree too unlike RBR 🙂


ah, the pooper-scooper jaws………I remember them fondly. 😉


Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport!!

Leave them to innovate. Anyone without the money to innovate should stay out of Formula One.


I would agree with most of your suggestions but draw the line at banning gee-gaws. The gee-gaw element is one of the only areas left unpoliced and should be left open to aero gurus to do as they please. I once considered the theoretical possibility of having a ‘blown’ gee-gaw but had to shelf it due to complexity and cost. The ‘doo-dad’, on the other hand, can go. Doo-dad refinement is a total money/time pit.


Something like this you mean?

Not only do right now teams spend millions of $$$ on crazy front wings, but as soon as they’re behind another car everything gets messed up anyway so +1 to you Roberto.



Lovely design, pity about that Peugeot Lion badge spoiling it……….nothing against the French Lion but their time in F1 was somewhat ham fisted.

Ask Martin Brundle about Silverstone 1994; his engine grenaded itself at the start of the race!


Also, ask Mark Blundell about Silverstone 1994 – he nearly got incinerated!


Plus we’ve quite often seen front wings get damaged in the race, and it apparently makes little to no difference to the driver’s performance.


There was one race where Massa was actually going faster with a damaged wing.

Millions well spent on that one 😉


I find it amazing when this happens as well.


“leprechaun seats”. I take it your average leprechaun is smaller than your average monkey. Lucky Eddie Jordan isn’t still racing or you could have been modded 😉

Agree with what you say on the wings though, plus sort out the rediculous noses. Senna’s #1 ’91 McLaren – there’s a nice motor, decent nose and simple front wing to use as a baseline.


The front wing doesn’t function on it’s own – it sets up the airflow for the rest of the car body. Change a sidepod, and the optimal front-wing design changes. Change the exhaust, and the optimal front-wing _may_ change…have to test it to be sure. And a change to the front wing that optimises the flow under the car may adversely affect the flow over the rear wing…but it might not be apparent in CFD or model-scale testing. And that is why the front-wing has grown so complex – the teams now know (via Computational Flow Dynamics) how to try and optimise the airflow around the entire car, not just generate downforce with the front-wing itself. The simplistic formula you propose would certainly not let them do that, and as a result the cars would be slower and have much less grip. And that’s all well and good…except that you run the risk of F1 cars being equalled or even outpaced by F2 cars…especially with the new engines.

To a very real degree, the front-wing of F1 cars is what helps make F1 the premium motor racing formula in the world.


I’m an aerodynamicist, so I know what they’re trying to achieve with the current crop of ultra-complex front wings, although I question if they’re actually achieving it in actual practice. And I know for certain they aren’t getting good value for money. As you say, it’s not just about pure down-force. But you’re missing the point. Many, if not most, F-1 regulations which involve restrictions are there to reduce overall cost, almost always at the expense of performance. Limiting the number of engine cylinders, the number of engine valves, and even the number of wheels comes to mind. So that concept is not revolutionary. The problem, as I see it, is that the front wing is much less restricted than most other areas so the designers spend countless millions on teasing out the last gram of down-force while trying to reduce the last gram of drag. Of course, they spend countless millions squeezing the last bit of performance out of the engines too, but that development comes nearly to a halt at the end of February specifically because of a regulation designed to reduce cost. However, wing development continues with constant changes and tweaks every time someone has a new guess at how to fit a new thing-a-ma-jig. I suspect some teams even come up with new wings even if the team’s wing division is out of fresh ideas just because everyone else will have a new front wing at the next race and they don’t want to appear stumped. A simplified wing rule need not reduce lap times, but if F-1 lap time is in danger of being eclipsed by F-2 the answer is quite simple; larger engine displacement and bigger tires.


Not to mention that everything can go down the drain if a butterfly flaps its wings too close to the endplates


Those damn flutterbys again!

All cars to be equipped with nets mounted on the front wings now!

Properly homologated, ofc.


Have you seen what they did to the noses with a “simple design rule”? If they did same to wings, you could probably expect some hideous monstrosities produced to deal with and get around it.

“Mercedes new front wing resembles an anorexic rhinoceros’ backside..but will it get the job done?”..Martin Brundle


I would guess that the requirements are different for each circuit (ideally) for different ratio of straight to bend and radius/grip of bend and circuit generally.

Then what works in a straight line all goes to hell when the steering wheel is turned and the tyres stick out at the front inside and and at the back of the wheel on the outside, just when you wanted the extra downforce it is reduced.


The front wing starts moving the air into the area you want it, thus making it one of the most important components on the cars. The constant evolution of these wings is what makes f1 so good. Although I do enjoy when a driver taps another car with it, damaging the end plates and not losing any time.

Maybe they should be a restriction of how many different wings they can use in a season.personally I would set this at 21!! 😉


4 to 6 weeks?! I thought they could churn them out in a week…


I think from initial design to manufactured item it would take that long. To just make a new one from an established design might take less. Incidentally I wonder if 3D printing might speed this process up? I don’t really know how the current aero components are manufactured but I would imagine any f1 team worth it’s salt would be looking into this technology. James?

timothy clarke

today’s objects made in 3D printing are not known for their high tensile strength….some day indeed!


But going back ten or twelve years to my day, we had STL (Stereo Lithography) which could be used in a tank of liquid resin or powder to produce all sorts of mouldings either by making the pattern for a casting or directly by sintering a metal/plastic powder mix, or a lost-wax process, which I thought had died years ago but in fact is still used in making jet turbine blades. All that from what was originally just brittle, fragile white plastic. So there will be a way!


Aye, but F1 is all about innovation – making the near impossible mundane.


Imagine the cost Lewis racked up at Macca with all his damaged front wings over the years………quite an expensive repair bill! Not to mention a huge amount of work-load and time to make a front wing in the first place!


WHy target Lewis? Every driver crashes…


I was thinking more specifically about front wings – Lewis got through a lot of them at Macca!

Not beating up on Lewis……….but a team running him better have plenty of spare front wings at a race!


I have to believe that the schedule implications for Renault-powered teams is hugely significant…if not insurmountable! How could they have enough time resolve issues, test, rebuild, and ship engines to their customers in time? Though I haven’t found any detailed dialog/press about the subject, I assume that Renault has some sort of formal [engineering] risk mitigation or failure review process. I would also expect that all customer teams participate in data sharing and analysis with Renault. How well do the engineers from different teams (with differing needs, capabilities, and schedules) collaborate in these conditions? James or Mark, can you provide any insight into project management, reliability engineering, and quality assurance practices relative to Renault’s current predicament?

Thanks, as always, for having the most enlightening F1 content around!


I was wondering the same, two weeks to make a change and having in mind that las test was not flawless at all? Also, now I think that having the test and just a couple of weeks to Melbourne it’s a bit complicated, I mean, if the front wing takes 4-6 weeks to make, they cannot make too much changes in the car, basically what they have in Bahrein is what will run in Melbourne. I think they will do basically turn arounds (an USB fan pointed to the batteries comes to my mind), there is no time for anything else.


Excellent read and from what I understood teams would have made 2 or more options to test say of the front wing, so in reality last test would be more like practice before practice in Melbourne. Anyone get it wrong now will be spewing till Barcelona…


I can just see a team member at airport security… “This REALLY is a battery for an F1 car!” “I’m sure it is sir please step this way…”


lol…. yeah that would be funny to see. But I doubt they would allow their battery to be x-ray scanned. Their secret technology is closely guarded


I would love to see a crew member trying to get a front wing on a plane as carry on. “What do you mean it’s over the weight allowance. It’s carbon fibre!”


May be he could convince the pilot that the aircraft needs a new front wing 🙂


But good luck getting into a luggage compartment 😉


Obviously I meant good luck getting it into a luggage compartment…although if you’re small enough maybe you could just leave the wing on your seat and curl up 😉


It’s not going in the overhead storage bins though is it? Perhaps they could buy it a seat.


Might be tricky to fit into the overhead locker.


Ha! I’d love to see them cramming one into the overhead lockers.

heinzman (fan of: ALO)

James, I have always marvelled at the work that must go on to facilitate all aspects of the ‘show’ from the perspectives of the team.

It may not be interesting for everyone, but would you consider covering the above in more detail in a later article? In particular, on a race weekend how many people are actually involved in setting up and packing up that have little or nothing to do with the racing.


I second that too.


Here’s a suggestion: you could interview key personnel from a selection of teams who are responsible for logistics. We spent half an hour speaking with Ivor at Mercedes. He’s the epitome of cool, calm and collected. A guy with a great smile, equally great presence and humble enough to tell us about the logistics involved – finding extra space for trophies etc, etc. I just wish I could remember it all. He clearly loves his job and has to start packing up the moment the race starts to make sure the team gets to where they need to be.

In fact there are so many people in the teams who are stars in their own right, if anyone else has any suggestions – let them flow. I have every confidence that James could do them justice.

Apologies Heinzmann: we didn’t get a chance to speak with Ferrari’s ‘Ivor’.


Certainly seems to be some interest in this topic so yes we will look into it


Would love to get more insight into something like this.


Agreed – it would be fascinating to have a documentary produced that follows the F1 “circus” behind the scenes to show the amount of effort it takes to prepare and get through a season. Working in the Events Industry, I understand the complexities of getting everything in one place for a large event; doing this 19 times in succession is quite a feat and one that begs for a good documentary crew to follow.

heinzman (fan of: ALO)

Haha, Gary Naylor and Rich C, working as a brand manager and working the trade show beat gives you an appreciation of the work that must go on behind the scenes!



I used to do a lot of international tradeshows and even with just our couple of big-ass crates the customs paperwork gave a headache, much less the actual logistics. And in some of these dirt-hole countries the customs *officials are just…


That sounds like a good idea, maybe, to cover different aspects on different blog items.


I’d also be interested to learn more about the logistics in making the show work.

Liam Aldersson

Echo that comment – how about approaching one of the teams to cooperate on an in-depth feature on the logistics behind a fly away race – photos/video/facts and figures.


Comments by Vettel here in the press in Australia today indicate a very somber mood in the RB camp.

Bring on Melbourne

Maybe the is now more than 1 cat in amongst the pidgeons for 2014.

MW’s timing to exit is superb.

Kimi and Nico would be most pleased at RB’s issues


Would be funny if toro rosa can get themselves on the podium in the first few races. Ricardo 🙂


I’d be interested to know on what grounds customs would have for confiscating an automotive part, unless it was particularly sharp?


There are many reasons why customs would confiscate something, but I think usually they’re worried about contamination and weapons.

My comment above is in reference to a news story from quite a few years back (ten or so) where an F1 team was trying to transport a front wing to one of the races, but the customs officials of that particular country couldn’t figure out what it was, decided it might be something “dangerous”, and so decided to destroy it.

I tried to find a link to verify the story, but although I ended up failing miserably I did find a bunch of others that are amusing / worrying.


“Shall we stop that Formula 1 team member, the sweating bearded Afghan with wires poking out his back, or the Norwegian grandmother?

Yes, you’re right, the Formula 1 team member.”

What on earth did they think the wing was for? I don’t think F1 personnel are plotting the downfall of the West, do you?


Well yes you’re right Gaz, but doesn’t the aerodynamicist come before the wing?

So really that should be aerodynamicist 1, wing 2, team member 3, Norwegian grandmother 4.

Clearly James Clayton is on to something: All customs officials should be made to watch F1.


Maybe the customs official didn’t follow F1..?


Well technically, the wing was first, the formula one team member was second, and then it was the Norwegian grandmother, so technically she was third – still on the podium though!


Just to confirm, the Norwegian grandmother was #2 on the international threat list right?


Depends on the country. If the item is for “commercial” use they may want to charge duties or taxes. If it’s made of some bizarre metal or other substance, it could very well be considered a Dangerous Good for travel by air, especially in a passenger cabin. Think lithium batteries, which are becoming by far the biggest DG concern for all airlines as they gain popularity in everything technological. They can be extremely dangerous. Boeing 787 comes to mind. Also, some of these amazing gadgets F1 temps make and carry probably look like they could just as well be used for producing drugs in meth labs and the like. So I can see how they might sometimes get some grief.


I still find it amazing that it takes so long to make a front wing.

And, as always, be careful when you take one through customs 😉


have a look at the interweb for “williams designing a wing” run by the BBC a few years ago. pretty much sums up everything and gives you a good insight in why it takes so long to assemble.


Think this is the link RedgerT was referring to


I know what you mean, 4 to 6 weeks to make sounds concerning, and downright dangerous for Lotus 😉

Though when you look at the Red Bull front wing with the seven or so elements with slot gaps, curves etc, there’s probably more intricate carbon fibre design in the wing than the entire F1 car in the 90’s.

Wonder if there’ll be a time when the materials are strong and light enough that teams just bring a 3d printer to the race with them.

Leave it running overnight, Control + P, MaldonadoFrontWing.dwg, 10 copies, OK…


Lol, very well done 🙂


I read an article around the time of last years USGP that some teams do have 3-D printers at the races. The example given was creating brake ducts with larger or smaller openings than what they brought for the track if conditions dictate.

They’re obviously not using it for major parts but it is being applied already.

timothy clarke

love the “10 copies” Clark…very subtle indeed!


Not keen on internet acronyms but suffice to say this made me LOL.


I am also astonished by this enormous delay.


could you please detail us the construction sequence and approximate times for each step? That would be very instructive and would help understand how complicated it is to assemble a F1 car

Thank you


Just tell customs the wing is part of Mr E’s entourage – it’ll be let through no problem!


That’s okay; Mr. E goes to prison he’ll have to get himself a new entourage anyway 😉


Brings a whole new meaning to “give the wing to the No 1 driver” heh???


James and Mark, I have a question regarding the homologation of the engines.

It looks as though Ferrari may have some problems regarding fuel efficiency; will they be unable to fix this through out the year? I’m delighted that Merc are off to a great start but if they have an advantage in Australia, will they effectively have that advantage for the whole year? Is any development allowed at all?



Considering that ‘cutting costs’ is one of the reasons for being able to make changes, then it seems obvious that the smart route at this stage is to make an engine that is infeasibly and unnecessarily expensive. You will then be free to change virtually anything, and put it down to cost savings.


Where does your info regarding ferrari fuel consumption problems come from? Are you an expert?


Lots of quotes coming from Italy from reliable sources in the media that the reason why Ferrari were running low downforce set up in Bahrain (hence their top speed) was that it meant less fuel consumption (due to less drag). Even then the times were so so.


Yes, engine modifications are allowed for reliability and environmental reasons which I guess includes fuel efficiency and also for 1 other reason which I cant remember right now.

Google is your friend 🙂


Safety is the other one, Red Bull have been using that clause to constantly make changes to their gear box nearly every race weekend…


I know you didn’t ask me, but in my view manufacturers are allowed to work on reliability and cost effectiveness of their PU’s, despite engine freeze.

The same happened during the V8 era freeze. At the time some manufacturers (Renault, Honda) were playing by the book in the spirit of the regulation and didn’t do pretty much anything to their engines for a loooong while.

Meanwhile Mercedes and Ferrari tweaked their engines in the name of “reliability fixing” and consequently gained power/torque/performance (even though in all honesty they had very few reliability issues at the time, not more nor less than Honda or Renault did).

As Rob White pointed out recently manufacturers actually changed 95% of the homologated engine from the beginning of the freeze to the end of an V8 era.

So I expect to see lot of the reliability issues being taken care of during this and further seasons. Some, or better say, few of which will be genuine reliability issues taken care of.


Plenty of development takes place. The situation is no different to the last five years. Renault was still able to greatly reduce the power deficit that it had and come up with exhaust blowing concepts.

Components get homologated, but they can be changed based on ‘reliability’ concerns. The software can be adjusted for reliability in the same way.

I wouldn’t place too much store on power or efficiency rumours out of testing. Melbourne will be better judge of that as teams will have plenty of time to crunch numbers to work out the best race pacing. Rosberg had one run where he had to slow down about 3 seconds a lap in the second half. Could have been fuel or overheating. We don’t know.


Martin, excellent essay as always. I think the McLaren rear suspension could be a potential double diffuser this year – both in terms of storms of protest and also “why didn’t we think of that?”

At the minute, my money would be on the Mercedes – it seems to have the best integrated solution to the new regulations, but I may be wrong.


Your conclusion on the favourite is very logical. The most obvious possible negative sign to me is that Mercedes had most of its failures at the end of testing, which would be the time drive train is being worked the hardest.

There are still a lot of unknowns. Aerodynamic development potential, cooling in hot weather, true fuel consumption, ease of overtaking (Force India reckon it has better tyre life than Mercedes or Williams), how aggressive Pirelli is?

The McLaren suspension blockers could be must have development, but at the moment performance-wise the car is like a 2009 Williams (DD from the start) rather than a 2014 one. By the end of 2010 McLaren realised that its F-duct design had been surpassed.




Martin, just to add, I’ve noticed the Ferrari water jacket design is very distinct – we’ll have to wait for a hot weather race to see if it is a viable design or not.


Sporting Regs Appendix 4

Article 1.

c) Such changes will normally only be accepted if they are being proposed for reliability, safety or cost-saving reasons. Any manufacturer wishing to make a change for any of the above reasons must apply in writing to the FIA Technical Department and provide all necessary information including where appropriate, clear evidence of failures.

Development is then restricted year on year by weighting (not weighing) of a list of items in Appendix 4 of the Tech regs which lays out exactly what is allowed to change over the next 5 years. As each year passes les is allowed to change, thus by 2020 the powertrain is just about fixed.


So to be clear, once a manufacturer has developed an engine, by 2020 there’s almost no going back to redesign it?

Unless I’ve misunderstood this, stupid rule.


I believe all that Ferrari fuel unefficiency comes form some Alonso and Bottas comments in TK notebook, where the first one said they were reducing fuel consumption everywhere they could while the Williams driver said they had no problem on the fuel matter.

I do think it was all misunderstood. No team is going to have fuel problems to end the race unless they really messed up the software that regulates fuel consumption (as Bottas said), but at the same time all the teams will want to use all the fuel they have only when and where they need it, and that was Alonso’s point, they are trying to reduce all the fuel waste at the pit stops, under braking, before the start… And as far as I know, they are doing quite well.


Maybe fuel flow problem that can be fixed with software which I believe is changeable.

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