Keep on trucking - the road to Turkey 17 Aug 2005
Formula One teams are used to flyaway races, but this weekends Turkish Grand Prix may just be the first sailaway race. Renaults logistics coordinator Derek Rogers explains the championship leaders' preparations for the epic journey to Istanbul
Q: How early did you start preparing for the Turkish Grand Prix?
Derek Rogers: One year ago! We made our first trip to Turkey in August 2004, to view the hotels and then sign contracts for our accommodation. After that we visited the circuit to inspect the facilities, the garages and their layout - they were impressive, although still under construction at that stage. And the other important thing is to get our bearings - to understand how to get from the airport to the hotel, and from the hotel to the circuit each day.
Q: How early do you start planning the layout of the team's garage in Turkey?
DR: That began at the Hungarian Grand Prix, when FOM (Formula One Management) provided us with the plans of the exact space we will have for the race weekend.
Q: Are there any complications with travelling to Turkey?
DR: Yes, because we have to complete formal customs arrangements as the country is not yet a member of the European Union. This means we had to prepare what we call an ATA Carnet - a list of every single item we take to the race in each of our ten trucks. After that, there is obviously the problem of the distance - Turkey is by far the longest journey we make with our trucks in the season. The trucks have made a four-day ferry crossing from Trieste in Italy to Istanbul, and from there it was just a short drive to the circuit.
Q: Are you treating the race like a normal European round of the season, or like a flyaway race?
DR: From our operational point of view, this is just like a normal European race. The team will arrive on Wednesday, and the mechanics begin working at the track on Thursday morning. Some team members will go out slightly earlier to set up the garage and motorhomes, and the engineering team will go one day early in order to inspect the circuit and learn its intricacies. But otherwise, the excellent facilities and organisation at the circuit mean we can treat this very much like any other race.
Q: Does the team bring everything with them to the race, or do they need to buy supplies on site?
DR: We try to bring as much as possible ourselves as we often use very specialised equipment - this goes all the way to things like fuel and oil, which are provided from specially made batches by Elf. But we still do source some materials locally, such as dry ice for cooling the cars, liquid nitrogen for working on gearboxes, propane gas for cooking - and of course the food that we need for the team and our guests over the race weekend.
Q: How have you found the facilities and arrangements in Turkey?
DR: So far, the arrangements have been perfect. We have some of the best facilities of the season in the garages, which are enormous - and will give the team a great working environment. Equally, the communications provision is top class - broadband internet access and ISDN are easily available. Overall, from what we have seen the circuit is very well prepared for its first Grand Prix, and I expect everything will go extremely smoothly.