Although geographically still in Europe, Sochi is around 3,500km from Renault Sport F1’s headquarters in Paris and therefore treated as one of the ‘flyaway races’.
Instead of the reassuring comfort of bespoke trucks carrying a wealth of equipment, teams send the kit as they would for races in Asia or the United States. This means a combination of sea and air freight and a complicated logistics plan. Renault Sport F1’s security and logistics manager, Jean-Pierre Raymond, explains the intricacies of preparing for the third of third of seven ‘overseas’ races that end the 2015 season.
‘Russia is technically a European country but the distances are so long from the teams’ bases that we have to prepare everything as we would for one of the flyaways, such as Australia. We send two consignments of equipment, one by sea freight and one by air freight.
‘Actually when I say sea freight, it’s not strictly accurate. Normally the standard consumables go into containers and onto cargo boats, but for this race it was sent on several trucks by road. Around 300kg of kit was sent this way. It left Paris for Italy and then onto Russia at the start of September to be delivered to the circuit the week before the race.
‘Then there is a further six tonnes of air freight, which includes the power unit parts and ancillaries. To save costs, the freight is sent from Paris to the first flyaway – this year in Singapore – and then it continues on to the next rounds without returning to Europe. This means we have to anticipate requirements for seven races in one go ! This freight leaves Japan on the Tuesday after the race and arrives in Sochi on the Monday before the Russian Grand Prix.
‘It’s not easy, and requirements may change according to new developments, so there is an opportunity to send another consignment by air freight from Europe direct to Russia.
‘Alongside the normal challenges of an overseas race, one of the main time constraints of sending equipment to Russia is the paperwork. Everything needs to be translated into Russian so we consult a specialist agency to help us file the dossiers.
‘Personnel logistics in Russia are similarly complicated. Everyone needs a visa to enter the country, which takes some time, but the procedure has been simplified this year and we were able to get the paperwork done very early. There are no direct flights from Paris to Sochi so it takes a long time to get there ; around 12 hours door to door, which is the same as a flight to Japan ! When we arrive we stay in the hotels around the circuit that were specially built for the Olympics in 2014 and it’s fairly easy, to be honest, although there are a lot more security checks over the weekend than normal. Each car has to be checked before entering the circuit and there are more police than we see usually.
‘The Grand Prix is relatively straightforward when we get there but that is due to the level of planning we execute before the race. There’s around 50% more work that goes into it than a normal race weekend.’