The recent cloud of ash from an unspellable volcano didn’t just cause lots of people to be on holiday for an extra week. It also meant almost every F1 team was stuck out in China, forcing them to seek innovative ways to return to their European factories.
Ferrari, being based in Italy, had a relatively easy journey home. Several other teams asked if they could perhaps accompany the Italians backs and of course Ferrari was only too happy to immediately report them to the FIA and demand an inquiry into bribery and cheating.
Meanwhile, McLaren were the only team able to reap the rewards from a long term emergency strategy put in place several years ago by Ron Dennis which was designed to give the team ‘a quantity of options, re. a return trip to the UK in the eventuality of a situation outside of the parameters within which pre-arranged transportation can feasibly operate’. In this case, the entire team was quickly able to enter a pre-built titanium tunnel just outside Hong Kong which quickly whisked every team member to Woking on a shiny grey monorail.
There was no such luck for the Mercedes team and Michael Schumacher in particular. ‘Michael had heard that last year Ross Brawn had bought a set of special boat tickets that would get people in super fast time if need be,’ said a spokesman. ‘Unfortunately, although Ross had done the same this year, when Michael tried to use this year’s ticket to get home he found his travel was disappointingly slow’. Curiously, however, fellow driver Nico Rosberg used a very similar ticket and is reported to have had ‘no problems’ using it to get home.
Meanwhile, the Virgin F1 team decided the quickest way to return home was to hire a coach and drive back to Britain. Sadly, their plan quickly went wrong when an embarrassing mis-calculation saw them run out of fuel just outside Mongolia.
However, it wasn’t all bad news for motorsport teams as the volcanic ash travel crisis did at least allow US F1 to do that hollow snorting laugh noise that people make when they want to pretend they’re pleased not to be somewhere, even though secretly they wish they were.