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How Formula One Ferraris and drivers jet around the world

March 27 2022
5 min read
How Formula One Ferraris and drivers jet around the world
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The 2022 Formula One season kicked off on March 20 with the Bahrain Grand Prix. From March to November, the 10 competing teams will be racing against each other with 22 races taking place on six different continents.

And it is not only the cars that will be roaring. Wherever Formula One goes, a whole squadron of jets makes it possible for drivers, staff and media to keep up with the frenetic schedule of this popular motorsport.

Welcome to the world of the jet-setting F1 teams!

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The close connection between aviation and Formula One is not surprising.

One of its most lauded drivers was Niki Lauda, who following a successful racing career, started no less than three different airlines in his native Austria: Lauda Air, Niki and LaudaMotion, with the the last one being acquired by Ryanair back in 2018.

It is also public knowledge that several top drivers have (or have had) their own jets. Just to name a few, Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen have favored different versions of the tri-engined Dassault Falcon 900 jet, while Lewis Hamilton used to fly an eye-catching all-red Bombardier Challenger 605 until he sold it in 2019.

But even the drivers that don't have their own planes, are no strangers to the comforts of private jet travel. It is quite common for F1 racing teams to partner with executive jet operators to make sure their top drivers and managers move swiftly between racing engagements.

Related: How I Zoomed Across the US on a Private Jet, With Two F-15 Pilots

Take for example, one of the F1 top teams, Scuderia Ferrari, which has renewed its partnership with VistaJet, an executive jet operator.

There is no specific plane assigned to the racing team, but VistaJet operates a floating fleet model that allows it to assign the best aircraft out of the firm’s 80-strong Bombardier fleet to the mission of transporting drivers. The aircraft available range from the state-of-the-art ultra long range Global 7500, which is able to carry up to 19 passengers between any two points in the world, to the smaller Challenger 350 for up to 9 passengers.

The association between VistaJet and Ferrari, which has been in place for four years, is not coincidental. VistaJet’s founder, Thomas Flohr, has been racing competitively with Ferrari for many years and has personally taken part in races such as Le Mans 24 Hour and the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Another venerable Italian brand whose F1 team also has a long-standing partnership with an executive jet operator is Alfa Romeo. In this case it is Austria-based Globeair that has been Alfa Romeo’s official partner since 2018.

McLaren has FAI Aviation Group (not to be mistaken with FIA, the international motorsports federation, the body that organizes Formula One) as its executive jet partner. This German operator has its own fleet, comprised of some 27 aircraft ranging from Bombardier Global Express jets to Hawker Beechcraft turboprops, and it not only flies active F1 personnel, former champion Mika Häkkinen has been acting as one of its brand ambassadors.

When talking Formula One and aviation, Red Bull deserves a mention and not just because the Austrian energy beverages brand claimed for many years to “give you wings.” The beverage company, which owns two Formula One teams — Red Bull Racing and Alpha Tauri — is also heavily invested in aeronautical activities, from running an acrobatics team to performing occasional stunts, such as Felix Baumgartner’s famous freefall from the stratosphere.

Red Bull even has its own aircraft fleet equivalent to the air force of a small nation state, the so-called Flying Bulls boast an eclectic collection of airplanes and helicopters.

What’s more, in 2020, Japanese firm Honda, which at the time was a major sponsor of Red Bull’s car racing endeavors, delivered an HA-420 HondaJet executive jet for the use of both Red Bull Racing and Alpha Tauri teams.

Related: Honda wants to build the first transcontinental light jet — and it’ll only need one pilot

The aeronautical connection doesn’t end there. In an interesting case of cross-industry knowledge transfer, Honda used technology from the HF120 engine, the same that powers the HondaJet, in the development of Red Bull’s racing cars.

What seems clear is that with each of the teams employing over a hundred people and many more traveling in other capacities, such as contractors, sponsors, members of the media and guests, executive jets are but a small part of the whole logistical apparatus that keeps the Formula One circus moving.

Commercial flights are also widely used, but the more than 1,400 tons of equipment that must be moved from one Grand Prix to the next require a solution.

Land transportation is often used within Europe, where pretty much all teams and half of the racing circuits are located, but with Formula One becoming a more global sport, the availability of dedicated long-haul air cargo capacity is essential.

The racing cars, perhaps the most valuable cargo of all, are broken down and shipped in parts, then completely reassembled on arrival. Only pace and safety cars are shipped whole and on racks. Other highly valuable equipment needed for the maintenance and operation of the cars is also shipped by air.

Related: The Boeing 777 turns 25: All about the new Boeing 777X

The Formula One organization has long entrusted its cargo operations to DHL, which nowadays uses mostly Boeing 777 freighter aircraft for this high stakes mission.

Featured photo by (Image courtesy of Vistajet)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

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