For the second time in the Championship history, Formula 2 is gearing up to race in Melbourne, Australia around the Albert Park street circuit.

The venue has immediately become a favourite amongst the drivers for the experience of racing so far away and around such a high-speed street track, but how does an event like this happen?

You have huge amounts of freight, 11 teams in F2, 10 in Formula 3, along with all the operational staff, equipment, and a few single-seater racing cars to go with that.

F2 Director of Operations Marco Codello explains just how much work goes into staging a race weekend on the other side of the world. First up, getting everything packed up from the previous round to ensure it gets to the next venue on time.

“From a logistical point of view, at the end of each event, everything has to be packed up and transported,” Codello explains. “F3 has gotten to Melbourne a week earlier, so there is no stress there. F2 follows the Formula 1 timeline, so everything had to be packed in Jeddah by Sunday afternoon.

“The teams had the possibility to work a little bit on the cars having raced on Saturday. That helps a lot because they get some work done on site in Jeddah, but all the teams will then get access to the freight in Albert Park on Tuesday. “We always have setup on Tuesday for flyaways so they have time to minimise the long nights for the teams and to make sure they don’t need to be there earlier than required.

“Last year proved that it works. The structure put in place from the local promoter was good. That then facilitates the job the teams can do as they’re able to roll the car out of the boxes and put the garages together along with the rest of the equipment so they’re ready to go with both cars for the event.

The equipment from Jeddah is packed up in quick order and shipped in time to set up over the week
The equipment from Jeddah is packed up in quick order and shipped in time to set up over the week

“It isn’t necessarily more difficult than any other flyaway because it’s not a back-to-back race or event, so we have enough time to ship all of the freight over. That makes it more achievable and affordable in terms of the workload for the teams, because obviously it’s a much longer flight and journey for the freight to make.”

Once the freight has made the almost 13,000KM journey from Jeddah to Melbourne, all of it is then transported into the centre of what is usually a public park outside of race events.

Teams will then begin their setup operation that is tightly planned in order to ensure they’re ready for the moment the light goes green for Practice on Friday.

“Last year was our first time racing in Melbourne, everything was new to us, and it was a big, big success"

“For the staff, I would say it’s definitely a bit more challenging with such a long flight, the time difference and climate to get used to at the beginning of the week.

“The event is held within the park, not at a permanent circuit, so everything needs to be built up. You’re on a non-permanent facility and that’s more of a challenge for the local promoter, but we have to make sure that we have the required space, power, water, electricity and facilities in general. We need to make sure that the track can comply with our needs and requests.”

Albert Park has been hugely popular with the drivers, with many picking it out as their favourite circuit on the calendar, though it is unique in more than just the travel time ahead of and after the race.

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Fans get closer to the action than anywhere else, with the layout of the support paddock lending those in attendance the chance to see into the garages as the teams work, alongside interacting with the drivers and teams across the weekend.

It takes a lot of work to ensure that the layout works from an operational and attendee perspective, but Codello says it has proved to be a big hit on all sides, and there will be even more to be excited about for this year, as F2 joins Formula 1 in the main pitlane.

A unique layout in the paddock allows fans to get closer than ever to teams and drivers
A unique layout in the paddock allows fans to get closer than ever to teams and drivers

“Last year was our first time racing in Melbourne with F2 and F3, everything was new to us, and it was a big, big challenge, but it was all a success.

“The other unique part is the fact that the fans are able to get so close to our paddock during the weekend. We don’t get that when we’re racing elsewhere. It’s very nice and unique, the level of security and safety was still guaranteed, but we could see all of the fans walking by the garages.

“That was a big challenge, but it was also a pleasure to have the possibility for teams and drivers to interact with the fans and kids. It made for an unusual but positive experience, and I think that it’s an important part of the event.

“This year, for the first time, the F2 teams will be in the main pitlane, so very close by F1"

“This year, for the first time, the F2 teams will be in the main pitlane, so very close by F1. This will probably be the closest we have been so it will bring massive visibility and exposure to fans. Having the F2 teams right next to the F1 teams in the garages is very cool.”

Of course, once you’ve held the race there, you have to transport all of that equipment back. This time though, it will return to each respective team’s workshop before being stripped down, prepped, and then re-assembled in time for in-season testing.

Australia is the final leg of the three fly-away rounds that start the 2024 season, but there are elements of the weekend that are a return to normality after two race weekends centred around night races.

READ MORE: Would You Rather with Gabriel Bortoleto “In Australia, we’re back on a standard timetable for track activities. It’s very similar to the European timetable, despite the massive time difference. In Bahrain and Jeddah, we had timetables that pushed track activity into the evening and night.

“It’s the final flyaway event in the first part of the season, so everything is going back to Europe, and we get a couple of weeks before the European season and tests begin.

“It’s a challenge because everyone is rushing to get everything ready, pack up and catch the flight home. So having the race finishing up late morning gives them half a day to pack up and get everything shipped back to Europe.

“There, they will have the possibility to work on the cars in the workshop for a proper turnaround and then get ready for the European campaign.”