Manama, Monday: Virgin boss Richard Branson has admitted that his attempt to send his team’s equipment to the Bahrain Grand Prix by an alternative low-cost form of transport was a “mistake” after Virgin F1’s hired camel caravan was seized by suspicious Saudi authorities.
Most teams send their equipment to Bahrain by air, but Branson’s desire to increase Virgin’s “green credentials” meant that he launched an ambitious plan to transport the team’s cars, motorhomes and spare parts to the season’s first Grand Prix overland, including hiring camels to transfer the freight across Saudi Arabia.
“Camel is one of the most economical and environmentally friendly forms of transport in the desert,” Branson explained. “We therefore decided it would be a good idea to use these ‘green’ alternatives, given the massive environmental cost of flying all this equipment out to Bahrain.
“Unfortunately it would appear that the Saudis were quite taken with the idea of a camel train of virgins making their way across the country, and have seized our property in order to investigate. We’re hoping that once this misunderstanding is cleared up, we can be on our way and get the cars to Bahrain in time for scrutineering.
“I bet that HRT wouldn’t have attracted nearly this much attention,” Branson added.
The problems caused by this alternative method of transport have led to speculation that Virgin may also be forced to cancel their plans to travel to the Canadian Grand Prix by dog sled.