Bernie Ecclestone has scotched suggestions that the Spanish GP will be cancelled

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has rubbished suggestions that the next round of the championship – the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona – will be cancelled due to the ongoing flight freeze in Europe caused by the Icelandic volcano.

The volcanic eruption – which has created an ash haze over much of Europe and almost grounded the worldwide airline industry – has contributed to the cancellation or postponement of several sporting events this week.

This weekend’s round of the MotoGP in Japan has been called off due to the travel disruptions the volcanic eruption has caused. It is believed that UEFA football gmes scheduled on Thursday between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool, and Hamburg and Fulham, could also be canned.

One thing that falls into F1’s favour is the three-week break between the Chinese and Spanish rounds of the season.

But with literally hundreds of tonnes of freight, including the F1 cars themselves sitting on the tarmac in Shanghai – while the six Boeing 747s that Formula One Management uses to ship equipment from race to race are grounded in Europe – it’s just a guessing game as to when normal service will resume.

"The main concern is getting the engines back because they have to be worked on," Bernie said to The Times. "But I am sure everything will be all right.”

Ecclestone – in spite of having his own private jet at his disposal – is currently stuck in Shanghai and unable to return to Europe.

"There is no question of cancelling the Spanish grand prix," he insisted. "Of course, it is causing everybody problems, but we will find a way to get everyone home."

Relocating personnel is proving less problematic, albeit considerably pricey.

While some teams – Ferrari and McLaren, for example – have organised private charter flights into Spain, where a few airports are still allowing planes to arrive and depart.

Lotus boss and AirAsia owner Tony Fernandes has set up a series of emergency flights to help relocate F1 personnel – including those of rival teams Sauber, Toro Rosso, Renault and Mercedes GP – out of China and back to Europe as quickly as possible.

Others have diverted to the Middle East or even as out of the way as North America to try and get back home.

Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari tweeted his flight schedule on his Twitter feed: “Shangai- Beijing, Beijing- New York, New York- Madrid, Madrid- Barcelona!”

Strange times indeed…!

[Original image via AutoWeek]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.