Rubens Barrichello was relieved to finally make it to Australia on Thursday after a nightmare trip to get to the opening race of the season. The Williams driver was scheduled to fly from the Buenos Aires airport, but that plan was spoiled when the airport was forced to call off all flights due to a failure of its communication systems.
Barrichello decided to travel to Uruguay by boat, before being told the airport would re-open in less than 24 hours, so the Brazilian decided to return to Buenos Aires. His plane eventually took off some 15 hours later. The relieved driver finally made it to Melbourne on Thursday.
"I'm finally here," Barrichello told reporters in Melbourne. "They said that there was a control tower radio problem and I got to Argentina with my plane, and the idea was to leave the plane there and just get the normal Qantas flight.
"I had my pajamas on already inside the plane, and the plane was out, and then after three hours they said, 'You guys are going to have to jump out.' As soon as I jumped out I said, 'Wow, there's going to be trouble.'
"Then I heard a guy in the bus going back saying it was going to be a minimum of 12 hours, and I said 'That's a nightmare.' I tried everyone. I called Mark to see if he could help me with Qantas. I called everyone I could possibly think of.
"They shut the airport. I couldn't take my plane out, I couldn't do anything, and that's why I tweeted. I was going to go to Uruguay by boat for three and a half hours, then take a flight to Santiago, and then fly from there and get here this morning.
"I took a cab to the harbor, but I was told not to do that because we heard they were going to re-open the airport, so then I came back. Luckily they said it was going to be no more than 24 hours, and I ended up being there for 15. I was like one of those guys you see in a video, sitting there with a cup of coffee in his hand waiting for a flight.
"People disconnected from the fact I'm a racing driver waiting there myself. In the middle of everything, with people shouting, 'When are we going? Where are we going?' They were coming up to me asking for my autograph. It was such a nightmare. When I eventually got on the plane I slept for 13 hours flat."
He added: "There was never a chance I would miss the race, even if I had to swim over here."
Barrichello also played down the effect the jet lag will have on him despite the late arrival.
"By Sunday I'll be fine. Last night I slept OK, but it was only from 1 a.m. until 6 a.m., so I will feel a bit dodgy. But after 19 years I'm quite good on jet lag, so I will be OK, but today I do feel tired. The only positive thing is I missed my PR commitments yesterday."