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GP Week : Issue 78
WHEN the flag falls on race day, team personnel usually scramble to make it to the airport and get the last flight out on a Sunday. But not this weekend, for the ash cloud that hangs over Europe has left almost everyone marooned in Shanghai. The closure of airports from Thursday also meant that some teams were short on parts in China. Lotus Racing will all fly to Kuala Lumpur courtesy of Tony Fernandes' airline AirAsia and then organize a charter to Spain. McLaren too have arranged a charter direct to Spain on Wednesday and will then drive personnel home to the UK by coach. Others are taking the opportunity to holiday in Asia while they await news from airlines. For teams, the next two weeks should be spent busily finishing upgrades for Barcelona: "I haven't got the schedule in front of me, but I know everyone is very worried about it," said Virgin technical chief Nick Wirth. "It is going to be a big push to get it done." "We haven't had any word yet from the freight," said a concerned Martin Whitmarsh. "If we lose three or four days we can live with it. If we lose it for a week or beyond then it becomes challenging." "We've been rotating chassis' but the cars and equipment have been away for some time and we're looking forward to getting them back in the factories as quickly as possible and servicing the cars properly. We have a range of upgrades that we hope to put on for Barca that could be chaotic if we don't get the freight back. As for the people, they are incredibly resourceful and we'll find a way back, it just might be more tortuous than usual." For more on this travel trauma, turn to Adam Hay-Nicholls' column (page 20). F1 AT THE MERCY OF VOLCANO Airport chaos in Europe means that paddock people can't get home FORMULA One's gone F-duct crazy. Alongside original innovators McLaren, who are now calling their system the RW30, Sauber, Mercedes, Williams and Ferrari used similar driver-activated systems to stall the downforce onto the rear wing in China. Pacesetters Red Bull Racing, however, are still going without. The long straights in Shanghai were thought to benefit enormously from the clever system, adding around 8-10km/h of top speed. Sebastian Vettel is champing at the bit to have his own F-duct, but Adrian Newey is still working on it. He hopes it will be ready for Barcelona. "We have no fixed date. Like all the others, we're working on it," Vettel revealed. He said the system can deliver up to half a second per lap, which is a potential development that no capable team can ignore. But "it's not easy (to integrate quickly), because McLaren worked on it in the development stage for a long time," said Vettel. Although everyone is rushing to copy it, McLaren Engineering Director Paddy Lowe said this week that his staff have already reached all the benefit you can get from this technology, it is certainly not a technology which has much more to come from it. Five teams run F-Ducts in China As discussed on our F1 tech page 10 6