How Brexit made Russian F1 Grand Prix replacement in Europe unviable
Earlier this week, Formula One announced that there would not be a replacement for the Russian F1 Grand Prix on the 2022 calendar. Multiple media reports of this announcement also stated that a European race between the Italian and Singapore GPs was unviable due to “EU freight rules". While that is technically true, a spokesperson for DHL, F1's official logistics provider, has told Trans.INFO that it is post-Brexit cabotage limitations that are actually the issue.
Followers of F1 will no doubt be familiar with the fact that the Russian Grand Prix was cancelled following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ever since its cancellation, there has been speculation as to whether the race could be replaced with an alternative in Europe or the Middle East.
However, on Wednesday, Formula One confirmed that there would be no replacement.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 18, 2022
Following that announcement, multiple media reports stated that the reason a replacement race could not take place in Europe was “EU freight rules”.
When breaking the story on Sky Sports News on Wednesday afternoon, a presenter said:
“EU freight rules made a European option unviable. Teams would have had to return to their UK base. Of course, a lot of them are based around Oxfordshire, or McLaren based near Woking in Surrey. They would then have had to repack – a bit of a logistics nightmare really.”
The Guardian also wrote similar:
“EU freight rules would have required teams to return to their factories, unpack and repack to meet regulations.”
This naturally prompts the question as to what “EU freight rules” caused the issue. There are numerous freight regulations that apply to EU member states, most notably the recent Mobility Package, which requires trucks to return to base every 8 weeks.
However, Trans.INFO can reveal that the stumbling block is in fact the limitations in the UK’s post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU.
After being approached for comment regarding the aforementioned reports, a spokesperson for Deutsche Post DHL told Trans.INFO:
“The articles are talking about European Cabotage rules, which came into place for all UK teams once Brexit was legally ratified 2 years ago.”
The cabotage rules, which limit how many domestic freight transports can be conducted after transporting a load into another country, are contained within the EU-UK Trade Cooperation Agreement.
In short, the issue is that British-registered hauliers are restricted to one cabotage movement within the EU. In contrast, hauliers from EU member states can conduct two cabotage movements in the UK, and up to 3 within the EU. Therefore, by leaving the European Single Market, Britain has reduced the amount of cabotage that its road transport operators can conduct in the EU.
Interestingly, there is a period on the F1 calendar whereby there are 3 races week-after-week in Europe. Between August 26th and September 11th, the Belgian, Dutch and Italian GPs will take place.
Therefore, it is challenging but logistically possible for UK-based F1 teams to briefly head home before returning to another European race. However, the requirement to return to the UK as a result of the cabotage restrictions does of course add extra costs – making an extra race undesirable to a number of teams.
Concert hauliers have also been adversely affected by the cabotage restrictions.
Earlier this year, the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) admitted that concert hauliers don’t have as much EU market access as before, as the UK Government failed to negotiate special arrangements for the sector:
“many specialist hauliers who carry equipment for cultural events are not able to continue operating as before due to their reliance on cabotage movements. During negotiations on the TCA, the UK did request special arrangements for this sector, but the EU did not agree to this,” says a DfT consultancy document.
To try and get round the problem, the UK Government recently allowed vehicles to be switched between Great Britain and EU operator licences.
Although the decision will facilitate better EU access for events hauliers than they have had post-Brexit, entities will need to be established in the EU first – costing additional time and money.
Photo: Volvo Trucks Press Materials