Panasonic Toyota Racing's General Manager F1 Operations, Richard
Cregan, explains the intricate procedures behind sending an entire F1
team to Australia for the first race of the season and how the work
of the mechanics at the race track can give Toyota a competitive
advantage before the TF105 has even turned a wheel at Albert
Ralf Schumacher in 2005 Toyota
When do you start thinking about preparations for Australia?
Our thoughts turn to the next season as soon as the checkered flag is
shown at the final event of the previous season. We have to bring all
the equipment back from the last race, in the case of 2004 from
Brazil, and strip it down to be sent off for upgrades, improvements
and repainting. That has been especially important this year because
we have changed the livery of the team. Preparations for Australia
begin in earnest from November or December, when we study the notes
from last year's event and look at ways of improving the operations
for this season.
When does the packing process actually begin?
The actual packing process begins around two weeks before departure
to Melbourne. Everything has to leave the factory on the Thursday,
one week before the race, in order to be at the airport. Customs and
Excise need to know all specific details about the boxes we have, the
weights, the quantities, basically a comprehensive list of all
materials. It is a very complex procedure, but necessary. What takes
most time is actually constructing the equipment that we take. For
any new car, the materials and tools that we use can change, so on
the TF105 for example, we have different fans, front and rear jacks
to suit the new wing profiles, and nut guns. We have to wait until
the design of the car is complete before we can finalize the tools.
That has a knock-on effect on loading lists.
How does the team begin to itemize all the materials?
We have to list each item by its DYX number, that is a part number,
but we have to also include its weight, a brief description and the
quantities. We strive to base our processes on the experience from
previous years and the consumption of parts at the race track. We
take enough parts for both race cars, as well as the T-car and one
complete set of items to build up the spare chassis if necessary.
What sort of quantities of equipment are we talking about?
We are talking in the region of seven or eight air freight pallets,
but we are always trying to reduce the overall weight of what we send
to save money. Some items are actually cheaper to rent at the source,
things like copy machines, paper, chairs, tables, etc. Last year we
had 38 tones of equipment in total. This year we have reorganized
our pallet packing process to make packing and unpacking more
efficient and quicker. That has actually resulted in heavier freight,
but we have tried, where possible to reach our target of 37 or 38
How is the packing organized?
We must first start packing based on our aircraft allocation, whether
we have upper deck or lower deck pallets. The number of boxes we use
is dependent on this information and will be divided and split
between departments accordingly. Then we sit down with all the
equipment to find the most strategic way of packing it all. All the
freight is packed in the truck hall and departs Cologne in one
shipment on a 747 rented by Formula One Management (FOM). FOM
allocates and co-ordinates the movements, based on information we
have provided them. The TF105 race cars will go in the same shipment,
but they are packed directly at the airport onto special pallets
provided by FOM, which can fit two or three cars. Packing lists must
be ready by Tuesday 22 February to go to customs and excise for
How long does this entire process last?
Physically everything will leave the factory on Thursday and should
arrive in Melbourne on Monday. FOM look after all of that and arrange
for door to door delivery to the front of our garage. It is a very
well organized service.
Is there any competition between teams to unpack the quickest?
Not really between the teams, but I think there is a good competition
between the truckies within the team. The chief truckie is always
looking to manage the time well so that the guys can leave the track
at a reasonable hour. Packing up after the race is tougher because we
work to stringent deadlines, especially for the back-to-back races,
where all freight has to be packed away within 5 hours after the
race. For example, in Canada, which is back-to-back with
Indianapolis, we have a 10pm limit for packing equipment. This sort
of time pressure is only manageable with sufficient planning.
In what order does the equipment come off the pallets? Is there a
At Panasonic Toyota Racing, we have built upon the experience from
the last few years and modified our system to improve time
management. In the past, we have packed according to space
allocation, but this year we have endeavored to prioritize pallets
so they are unloaded in a particular order. We would first get the
track shacks into the garage, followed then by the garage interiors,
then the telemetry racks and pit equipment, and finally engines,
electrics and spare parts. On the Sunday night after the race for
packing we have probably saved approximately two-and-a-half hours of
work, purely with how we have reorganized our packing
What is a track shack?
A track shack is essentially a small mobile workshop for storage of
tools, spare parts and equipment. One shack is the same size as an
aircraft pallet and is made of light honeycomb material, which makes
it extremely strong, but light. Gearbox and hydraulics share on
shack, whilst the other belongs to main stores for spare parts co-
ordination. These are used at overseas races in place of the MAN
trucks that we use at European events.
What happens if something is missing?
We always arrange two late freight deliveries for Australia in the
event that anything is lacking. There could be changes to the
specification of the car, for example, as the team tries to maximize
the performance of the race cars, therefore we always have a safety
net. Closer the race weekend, this becomes increasingly difficult, so
if we do need to send anything over to Australia, we use Wednesday as
a deadline to ensure that parts get to the track in time for the
When do the cars go on to Malaysia?
We first do part of the rebuild of the cars after the Australian
Grand Prix on site in Melbourne, but the bulk of the work is done in
Sepang. Equipment delivery follows a similar schedule and is ready at
the track by Monday. The mechanics will have four to five days off in
between the races mainly because it is more cost effective to stay in
Australia than to fly back to Europe. After that they will go to the
circuit to complete the rebuild and set-up the garage ready for round
two of the championship.
Is there anything Toyota sees as an advantage over its rivals?
Toyota's approach is based on a Plan, Do, Check, Action philosophy,
to look at what happened in previous years and to improve. This is
something in which I believe we are very strong. Every year, we must
see an improvement, no matter how small it may appear. Anything that
saves the mechanics time is a bonus. We have implemented a process
which limits the amount of time mechanics spend on set-up to allow
them more time to focus on the car and make our team as competitive
as possible before the TF105s even turn a wheel at the Albert Park
Source Toyota Motorsport
Feedback can be sent to
Go to our
to discuss this article