As F1 remains stranded in China as a result of the ongoing global travel chaos caused by the Icelandic volcanic eruption in the middle of last week and the threat of further ash clouds hangs quite literally in the air, the sport's ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has insisted that the show will
The three-week gap between last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix and the forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix on 9 May should on paper provide teams with the opportunity to refine their cars before the European leg of the season begins – and allow drivers some well-deserved rest following the gruelling schedule of four 'flyaway' races in just five weeks.
With airlines still grounded due to the threat of ash entering 'plane engines, however, the majority of the travelling F1 circus is still similarly stuck over the other side of the world – and if a sense of camaraderie has struck up in such a time of impotence, there are growing fears that much like the Motegi round of MotoGP, Barcelona's spot on the calendar may either have to be postponed or else scrapped altogether.
As a compromise, it could be that teams have to fly straight to Spain once the restrictions are lifted – hardly ideal given that many had planned to debut aerodynamic and mechanical upgrades around the Circuit de Catalunya – but whatever happens, Ecclestone assures that the event will be going ahead.
“The main concern is getting the engines back because they have to be worked on,” the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive explained to The Times
. “I am sure everything will be alright. There is no question of cancelling the Spanish Grand Prix. Of course it is causing everybody problems, but we will find a way to get everyone home.”
Some team personnel have accepted Lotus Racing team principal Tony Fernandes' offer to fly on his AirAsia airline to Malaysia before waiting for British airports to re-open, while others have looked into the possibility of chartering private jets from Shanghai. McLaren-Mercedes has even offered any spare seats on its own chartered 'plane to other teams.
“We took the flyer and said that if it is half-empty then we will bear the premium,” revealed the Woking-based outfit's team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “So as long as we have got our team on it then we are happy for it to be full. I think some teams were hesitating this morning, but they are now jumping on-board pretty quick!”