Volcano ash strands F1 teams in China
19 April, 2010
Apr.17 (YF1) The flying restrictions caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland is threatening to play havoc with the start of F1′s European season in Barcelona on May 9.
Bernie Ecclestone, interviewed ahead of the race in Shanghai, talked about hosting round five of the championship in Shanghai in three weeks time if the paddock is still trapped in China but, joking apart, there is genuine concern that with Eyjafjallajoekull still pushing ash into the atmosphere and prompting European travel chaos, the disruption to both the travel schedules of F1 personnel and, more importantly, freight, could have implications for the first race back in Europe.
Although the situation could be worse, with a three week gap between China and Barcelona, the main concern is getting the cars back from Shanghai, with any serious freight delay meaning that teams could have problems getting their cars turned around in time for Spain.
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal of Chinese GP winners McLaren, said: “We have a range of upgrades that we are hoping to put on the car in Barcelona, so that could all be a bit chaotic if we don’t get the freight back.” Cosworth-powered teams Lotus Racing and Virgin Racing (pictured) are also planning significant upgrades for Spain having concentrated on mainly surviving the first four races after the stringent time frames imposed on F1′s new teams in 2010.
Much of F1′s media is looking into resourceful ways of getting home, with some F1 personnel booking trans-Siberian rail tickets and others heading for New York, then Porto (if its still open), followed by a drive to Santander, then a ferry back to the UK…
Ferrari reported: The day after the Chinese Grand Prix is dominated by insecurities as far as the return home of the Formula 1 teams is concerned, due to the volcanic ash blocking the sky over Europe. Yesterday only some of the numerous members of the teams managed to get on board of planes leaving for Europe: for the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Team Principal Stefano Domenicali and Technical Director Aldo Costa. The remaining members of the team will leave gradually: a first group Monday and another one early Tuesday morning, followed by the third and last group on Wednesday morning. Where the groups will fly to is still not sure. Everything depends on the weather conditions over the next hours.
Meanwhile all the teams are in the same condition, although the Scuderia set up an emergency plan, which will enable also Toro Rosso and Sauber to come back to their home countries by Wednesday night. It will be slightly more difficult to foresee the date when the material, single-seaters included, will arrive. Fortunately the Eyjafjollajokull erupted before a relatively long break of the race calendar: the next Formula 1 race will be held on the Circuit de Catalunya on 9 May. Otherwise Formula 1 would have experienced the same problems as Moto GP, the motorbike racing series had to postpone the race in Motegi until autumn. In case the material from China should arrive too late, then there might be some problems as far as the preparations for the Spanish GP are concerned.