D he action is reminiscent of war. The Formula 1 circus is moving from Sao Paulo to Abu Dhabi. In between there are 14 flight hours or 12,500 kilometers. The problem with this is that there are only seven days between the two Grand Prix. The schedule for the deployment of troops is even tighter. On Thursday morning in Abu Dhabi everything that was packed in a hurry on Sunday evening in Sao Paulo has to be rebuilt.
From nine to six hours
Williams- Team manager Dickie Stanford explains what happens in the 88 hours between the end of the race in Brazil and Thursday morning in Abu Dhabi. With the checkered flag in Interlagos, engineers, mechanics and caterers began a race against time. A job that normally takes nine hours had to be done in six. At 10:00 p.m. Brazilian time, around six and a half hours after crossing the finish line, all the material had to be packed. So two chassis, four motors, at least 30 tons of spare parts and the entire pit equipment.
Before packing up, a Formula 1 team has to dismantle the racing cars. 'First, petrol is extracted. The tank and lines must be empty for the flight. Then all metal parts of the suspension are removed and checked for cracks using UV radiation. If there is a problem, we have to know immediately so that the factory can react The same applies to the innards of the gearbox, i.e. gear wheels or shift claws. '
Critical parts in hand luggage
' Defective parts are returned to England as hand luggage. Nine engineers and three mechanics fly to Abu Dhabi via England on Sunday night, hand in old components and take new ones with them to Abu Dhabi. They also have all the carbon fiber parts of the suspension with them. The carbon fiber components can only be checked for damage at the factory. We have them The necessary tools are not included. In the event that there had been a major accident, a rearguard with parts would have flown to London on Monday. '
In a third step n the racing engines removed and sealed by FIA inspectors. 'It takes five minutes per team,' explains Chief Inspector Jo Bauer. The team then hangs the Friday engines in the rear of the Williams FW32. At the same time, all of the racing data is downloaded, the coolers replaced, and everything that has to do with electronics is expanded.Covering parts such as the underbody, the hydraulics and the wheels are packed separately.
Deadline for freight at 10 p.m.
The FOM (Formula One Management) cargo company asked for the teams that all transport crates had to be ready in the Interlagos paddock from 10:00 p.m. Then the cargo was carted in 200 trucks to the Sao Paulo airport, where five cargo jumbos were waiting. At five in the morning on Monday the fleet took off for the Arab Emirates. The Williams troop rushed to the hotel, showered briefly, packed, and then at 12:30 a.m. departure to the airport. The flight from Sao Paulo to Doha at 4:20 a.m. with Qatar Airways first brought 32 Williams employees to Qatar, where the entire travel group checked into a hotel so that after a 14-hour flight, the employees could enjoy a night in a real bed. Economy is of course flown. Only the drivers and engineers are allowed to travel in the better classes.
Six hours to unpack
On Tuesday morning, the Williams riot squad made the short hop to Abu Dhabi. 'Work will start in the afternoon, when all the material has arrived in the paddock on the track. We have planned a six-hour shift for unpacking. The cars are not yet touched. First the pit garage has to be completely set up,' says Stanford.
Wednesday will be a long working day. Then the puzzle has to be put back together from hundreds of individual pieces. Duration: nine hours. In the meantime, the parts exchanged and checked in the factory have also arrived in Abu Dhabi. The England Division has them in their hand luggage. The Friday engine installed for transport comes out again, the racing engine planned for Abu Dhabi is installed for detailed checks for which there was not enough time in Sao Paulo. Before Friday practice, the mechanics switch back to the Friday engine. The same applies to the transmission.
Biggest action in F1 history
On Thursday the two Williams FW32s will be in the garage as if nothing had happened. Only the people got a lot older in the three days. Dickie Stanford has been with Williams forever. The former mechanic has experienced a lot, but the transport across half the globe in just 88 hours beats everything that has come before. 'That was the biggest action I have ever been in.'