Site logo

Nearly all Formula One personnel now home

NEWS STORY
24/04/2010

The final 44 Formula One personnel still in Shanghai following last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix and the travel delays due to ash clouds from the Iceland volcano are expected to return to Europe today (Saturday). There has been significant movement in the backlog of air passengers in China with an estimated 150 returning home on Friday. But the delay would have been considerably less but for Chinese red tape.

Most of the teams still had mechanics waiting to return home midweek, while TV companies, journalists, over 100 members of Formula One management, plus employees of Bridgestone and other associated companies meant that there were an estimated 500 people still waiting to return to Europe.

At that time, Ferrari, whose travel agent is the second largest in the world, had successfully operated one charter flight out of Shanghai and intended to run two more. On raceday McLaren said that they too were trying to secure a charter flight but this never materialised. By midweek, British Formula One travel agency, Travel Places, part of American Express, were working with FOM to secure another charter.

It was the latter that became the focus of attention but Chinese red tape was blamed for holding up its arrival in spite of intervention at the very highest level. Bernie Ecclestone still had a considerable presence in Shanghai, paying not only hotel expenses but also a day rate and even wages to freelance staff who were still there in China, estimated to be over 100 people in total. Not surprisingly, he was actively involved in trying to ensure the charter, using his contacts; among the podium presenters at the Grand Prix was Shanghai's vice-mayor, Ms Zhao Wen.

The charter was still a possibility a day later, but then steadily other avenues opened and teams began to make their own arrangements. Red Bull found seats on Thursday's Air China flight, for instance, and on Friday some members of Renault, Williams, Virgin (who weren't all booked on Virgin flights), Bridgestone, some FOM etc managed to return home with Virgin. Renault had some 30 further mechanics camped out at the airport, while others including McLaren also found flights. By Saturday morning, as hotel rooms came under pressure due to the impending Expo in Shanghai, there were only 44 Formula One personnel remaining and it was hoped that they would all fly that day.

Journalists, some of whom had had to get their media visas extended, had made other independent and intricate arrangements, including one pair who arrived in Vietnam to visit a relative only to be arrested for trying to enter the country without a visa. After 13 hours in a cell, they abandoned their plans and continued their journey back to Europe via Moscow. The BBC also had a dozen personnel waiting in Shanghai for their tickets to be honoured rather than buying another ticket at considerable cost.

The adventure, however, now looks to be over. Travel Places' Nick Warren and Marie Pasquale worked tirelessly to find space on flights for those in Shanghai, while Travel Places founder Bob Warren worked with Bernie Ecclestone to try to make the charter flight work. But for local bureaucracy, everyone might have been back a few days earlier…

LATEST NEWS

more news >

RELATED ARTICLES

LATEST IMAGES

galleries >

  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images

POST A COMMENT

or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment

READERS COMMENTS

 

No comments posted as yet, would you like to be the first to have your say?

Share this page

X

Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2019. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms