Christian Horner has recollected the entertaining tale of how he, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel made their way back from Shanghai following the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix and in the wake of the global travel chaos generated by the Icelandic volcanic eruption – revealing that somewhat predictably, canny F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone beat them all back...
With many team members and personnel stranded in Asia for several days after the race, others endeavoured to find a way home, aware that the clock was already beginning to tick down ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on 9 May – the beginning of the European leg of the campaign and a race for which many competitors have planned significant upgrades.
Horner and Webber's journey, certainly, would not have been entirely out-of-place in Trains, Planes and Automobiles
, it would seem...
“It was a five-stop strategy,” quipped the Red Bull Racing team principal. “Mark and I left the hotel in Shanghai at 4:30am on Monday. We got a 7:15am flight from Shanghai to Dubai, then went from Dubai to Rome, arriving at 8:30pm local time. We got a flight from the other Rome airport to Nice, had a night there, then got a flight early on Tuesday morning to Glasgow – I think we were one of the first aeroplanes to go over British airspace.
“We landed in Glasgow at 12:05pm on Tuesday, only to find out that Mark had forgotten his passport! After enjoying some local hospitality, we managed to get a helicopter transfer from Glasgow to Oxfordshire, arriving at 4pm on Tuesday.
“Sebastian was lucky and managed to get a lift with Bernie Ecclestone, who I understand went to Istanbul. Sebastian got another flight from there to Nice and drove home from there – so he got home before all of us, early on Tuesday morning. Predictably, Bernie beat all of us back! I 'phoned him from Glasgow, very proud that we'd landed on British soil, only for him to say that he'd already been in the office for three hours!
“The majority of the team stuck together. We managed to get them on a direct flight on Thursday, which arrived in the UK later that afternoon. The cars and freight also arrived back on Thursday.”
An initial fear expressed when it became apparent just how wide-reaching the consequences of Eyjafjallajökull's eruption had been was that the delays might have a knock-on effect on the Spanish Grand Prix, but Horner sought to assure that any disruption to teams' preparations for the upcoming event would most likely be minimal.
“Thankfully, the way the calendar is with the extra week between the Chinese and Spanish Grands Prix, it has a very limited impact,” the Englishman explained. “There's still over a week to turn the cars around, and a lot of the components for the next race are produced here in the factory.
“The factory hasn't been affected – obviously the turnaround components are a little bit out-of-sync now coming back two or three days late, but with the additional week, we're confident it won't cause us any major issues.”