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Lotus Racing Race Ahead Home

by F1Fan on April 22, 2010

Sometimes it pays to be owned by someone that also controls an Airline.

With all the commercial carriers grounded throughout Europe up until yesterday and the resultant log jam of stranded passengers choking the Air traffic system many of the Formula One teams were wondering just how they were going to get back home from China for the three week break before the next Grand Prix in Spain.

Lotus Racing didn’t have that worry, Team Principal Tony Fernandes’ airline Air Asia flew all the team back from Kuala Lumpur at lunchtime on Wednesday making Lotus Racing among the very first F1 teams to make it safely back to their UK base.

Fernandez had already helped the entire team escape the masses trying to leave Shanghai on Monday night and his Air Asia team performed miracles to ensure all 55 members of the team, as well as key personnel from Cosworth and a number of F1™ journalists and photographers, first made it safely to Malaysia, Air Asia’s home country, in time to jump on the first flight to the UK when the airspace finally reopened. At the same time, the team’s freight has also been flying back to England, and is by now at the teams Norfolk facility, where it will be unpacked and inspected before the new upgrades for Barcelona can be fitted.

Tony Fernandes

Luckily for Lotus Racing Air Asia is the only airline flying directly from Malaysia to Standstead Airport in England. Talking about the efforts made to get his team home Tony Fernandes commented
“I’m delighted everyone’s made it back to Norfolk safe and sound. The Air Asia team in KL worked extremely hard to ensure we could get everyone on the first flight out, and with the extremely tight timelines they’re working to between now and the departure dates for Barcelona, it was vital we could get them all home as soon as possible. We were fully prepared for the journey back, and when I gave the team a tour of the Air Asia Academy at Sepang on Tuesday, I showed them the simulators where our pilots had been through rigorous training for flying through volcanic ash. Tough times often produce amazing results, and the team has bonded even more closely through these trying times, both internally and with the Air Asia team who helped them out. They knew they were in safe hands and it’s great we could get them back ahead of most of the grid!”

Mike Gascoyne

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer, was equally as appreciative of Fernandes’ and Air Asia’s efforts
“Firstly I want to say thanks, on behalf of the whole team, to Tony and Air Asia for literally taking us under their wings and getting us home so quickly. With their help, we’ve faced minimal disruption to our travel plans, and have minimised the impact it could have had on our ability to work to our pre-Barcelona timetable, and it was a great effort from everyone in Malaysia to help us out. We will go through our normal proceedures to unpack all the freight that’s arrived from China, and will then turn our attention to applying the Barcelona update package to both cars. All in all, we’re just glad to be home and able to focus on our jobs again, rather than worrying about the forces of nature!”

Being one of the new teams every day counts when it comes to developing new Aero upgrades to improve the cars and Tony Fernandes relationship with Air Asia has proven an invaluable advantage in that regard.

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