Monaco may be tiny, the second-smallest country in the world after the Vatican City with an area of only two square kilometers, but it’s been a regular fixture on the race calendar ever since the start of the Formula 1 World Championship. No less than 64 F1 races been staged in the Principality on the Cote d ‘Azur since 1950; only the Italian and British grands prix have taken place more frequently (68 each).
While Monaco is the highlight of the year for drivers and teams due to its glamorous location, logistics pose a number of very special challenges unique to this race. “Monaco is not a normal circuit,” says Martin Pople, DHL Trackside Manager.
When Formula 1 comes to town, a ribbon of crash barriers snakes through this sophisticated city to transform the Principality’s public roads into the 3.377-kilometere Circuit de Monaco. And, since there are either houses, rocks or the open sea to the left and right of the track, there’s no room for the Formula 1 trucks.
Trucks all over the place, from Nice to Ventimiglia
“Formula 1 normally uses around 1,000 trucks, but there are some 3,000 here because of Formula 2 and the Porsche Super Cup,” says Pople. There’s virtually no room in the city itself, so the trucks have to park all over the place after unloading, from Nice in France to Ventimiglia in Italy, and don’t usually return to Monaco until Monday after the grand prix.
Apart from the cars, the teams’ motor homes are also transported by road to the racetrack with the largest multi-story motor homes maybe requiring as many as 30 trucks. “Red Bull even have their own motor home for the people who build and run the actual motor home,” says Pople. “A motor home for a motor home!”
Construction work in Monaco starts about a week before the race weekend which traditionally gets underway on Thursday with the first two practice sessions. The Paddock Club is the first to go up and is really quite something to behold. Well, what did you expect, it’s Monaco! The fuel trucks arrive last, on Tuesday, usually.
Paddock Club around the track
At most other tracks, the Paddock Club is on the roof of the pit buildings. In Monaco, however, it’s not in one single place but in and around the world-famous port. Even the TV compound and the motor homes are not in one central area but scattered around the racetrack – the lack of space dictates that.
“Everything is spread out over a comparatively wide area,” says Martin Pople, who knows most racetracks around the world like the back of his hand, and adds with a chuckle: “But it’s Monaco! There’s nothing like it anywhere in the world. It’s very impressive.”