“It was a five-stop strategy,” Christian Horner begins his own story of the trip back to the UK from Shanghai amid the air travel chaos.
“Mark Webber and I left the hotel in Shanghai at 0430hrs on Sunday morning. We got a 0715hrs flight from Shanghai to Dubai on Monday, then went from Dubai to Rome, arriving 2030hrs 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 1205hrs 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 in Oxfordshire at 1600hrs on Tuesday.”
However Horner, the Red Bull Racing team principal, and driver Webber were some way behind Sebastian Vettel, who Horner describes as “lucky” in managing to hitch a ride with Bernie Ecclestone to Istanbul.
Which is where Ecclestone left the young German, Vettel flying to Nice before doing what he does best – driving – back to the UK to arrive early Tuesday morning. Meanwhile Ecclestone beat them all back, as Horner relates; “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!”
Meanwhile the majority of the team remained in Shanghai with the cars and other equipment.
“The majority of the team stuck together. We managed to get them on a direct flight today(Thursday), which arrives in the UK later this afternoon. The cars and freight will also arrive back today, probably beating the team home by an hour or two.”
But despite the upheaval Horner insists that the team's preparation for the Spanish Grand Prix have not been effected.
“The way the calendar is with the extra week between the Chinese and Spanish Grand Prix, it has a very limited impact,” he explains.
“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.”
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