While the F1 circus late on a Saturday night is usually fixated on the grid and looking ahead to the grand prix, this year in China many paddock regulars are just wondering how and when they might get home.

While the F1 circus late on a Saturday night is usually fixated on the grid and looking ahead to the grand prix, this year in China many paddock regulars are just wondering how and when they might get home.

Because of the ongoing eruption of the Icelandic volcano and the plumes of ash across the continent, nearly all European airports are effectively closed.

It is said possible the situation could go on for several days at the least, with weather forecasting service Accuweather predicting little change until late next week.

"Expect ongoing interruptions for the next four or five days," said a spokesman at the Icelandic meteorological office. "The eruption is still in full swing."

A Qantas spokesman agreed: "At this stage it's highly unlikely things are going to return to normal for several days at least."

Reportedly in the 1800s, the same Icelandic volcano erupted for a whole month.

Indian rookie Karun Chandhok wrote on Twitter that the "whole paddock (is) worried" about the situation, even if the wealthier top-three grid occupants - who could afford to sit out the chaos in a five-star Shanghai hotel - did not sound worried after qualifying.

"You swim (home)," Fernando Alonso joked to Mark Webber.

Amid news the airlines are now starting to cancel scheduled flights from Shanghai on Monday, BBC reporter Sarah Holt said: "F1 is being somewhat overshadowed by worries about planes home".

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