How freight delays to Brazil affected F1 teams’ preparation

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Three cargo planes were late getting out of Mexico City due to issues with fog, which meant that equipment was late getting into Sao Paulo.

Thus, teams couldn’t complete their usual back-to-back pre-race preparation work to the regular schedule.

McLaren, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Haas were particularly affected by the late arrival of chassis and parts, while Mercedes and Aston Martin were among those who could prepare their cars to a certain level, but had to wait for their power units to arrive before they could finish the job.

The FIA agreed to waive the usual Thursday night/Friday morning curfew, and race director Michael Masi sent out sporting regulations to cover this weekend with the curfew references deleted. The usual deadline for scrutineering was also waived.

The last trucks from Sao Paulo airport reached Interlagos on Thursday lunchtime, and teams were able to complete their preparations in time for Friday’s FP1 session.

“What happened was Mexico City airport got shut due to fog for five or six hours, which throws obviously the whole schedule out,” Nielsen told Motorsport.com. “Some flights couldn’t get in, and the ones that are already there couldn’t get out.

“Flights then get diverted, and those that were diverted couldn’t come directly here. And then what happens is you start running out of crew hours.

“Cargo flights have their crew on the plane, they’re not airlines where they could just call another crew in from a particular airport, you have to get staff from elsewhere.

“So a combination of diverted flights and crew hours running out meant that there was a something like a 24 hour delay. You can’t short circuit some of this stuff, if the airport is shut and the crew hours are what they are.”

Nielsen explained that all teams received the initial batch of priority freight, and that it’s up to the teams to decide what they allocate to that category.

“Everybody got their priority cargo,” he said. “I think it’s three pallets each. They get to choose whatever they want to put in it. I’m sure most people put their their chassis in it, things they needed immediately.

Equipment arriving in pitlane

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“We don’t tell them what to put in their priority cargo, that’s up to them. But we tell them how many pallets they can have, and they decide what they put in it. And I’m sure after this weekend, they’ll all be assessing what they have in their priority cargo.

“But some teams were heavily hit by the secondary flights, mainly engine suppliers who had a lot of engine stuff in that who didn’t get it until very late.

“Normally what happens is cargo comes in dribs and drabs. When it’s all here, we release it to everybody. This time, we weren’t able to do that. We had to take a pragmatic approach and say, those that have got it can start, and those that don’t we’ll do what we can.

“You can’t have all the planes take off simultaneously and arrive simultaneously, so you have to prioritise it. And when you arrive at an airport, they will break one plane down, and then another plane and another plane. So there’s always unfortunately a priority. Teams know that, and they accept that.”

Regarding the four teams that suffered most, he said: “They had less than what they would normally have, absolutely. And so that’s why they had to work on late last night, so we had to get rid of the curfew to allow them time to catch up.

“And everybody was happy to modify it, which is nice. And there were even stories of teams that were not that affected lending their forklifts and other stuff to other teams. It was a kind of a collective effort, and it was nice to see the teams collaborating to enable others to recover quicker.”

Nielsen stressed that F1 will take a close look at what could be done differently in the future.

“We will of course do a full post mortem of what happened and try and see what lessons can be learned. But it’s real world limitations that you can’t short circuit.

“It’s not unprecedented, it happened in Melbourne some time ago, the last couple of flights were very late getting in, but it doesn’t happen often.

“Of course, normally it’s seamless in our cargo department, and [its boss] Mike Negline does a great job with all that. But occasionally things things happen.

Lorries delivering equipment to the track

Lorries delivering equipment to the track

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“As I say we’re going to do a full post mortem. Who was affected by how much and why and see if there’s any lessons to learn.

“It is true that not everybody was affected the same, some much more than others, some very mildly or even not at all.

“Which it’s an uncomfortable situation, because it’s a sport and you want everything to be a level playing field. But in this particular instance, that wasn’t possible, because of real world limits.”

McLaren boss Andreas Seidl admitted that the delays had been difficult for his team.

“On our side, the main freight was missing so we didn’t have the cars and the power units,” he said. “Which meant that we could only start yesterday in the afternoon rebuilding the cars.

“With the arrival of the freight then shortly after lunchtime, we luckily were still in a position thanks to a big push from the entire team to finish pretty much around midnight yesterday.

“Which means I don’t expect that it has any impact on the rest of the weekend. Obviously not an ideal start because you want to use normally the Thursday night to still have a good rest for everyone, before it gets serious on Friday on track. But again, with finishing at midnight, I think it was still a reasonable break.”



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