FEBRUARY 17, 1997
F1 truckers run the gauntlet
THE Formula 1 teams have not been having an easy time in recent days because of a violent strike in Spain which has crippled cross-border truck traffic for the last 10 days.
Thousands of trucks are blockading border crossings and pickets are intimidating drivers, throwing bricks at those who try to run the blockade, slashing tires and setting fire to trucks. On Thursday one of the strikers was killed when he was run down by a French truck.
The Arrows team - keen to avoid trouble - organized for all its equipment to be flown out of Barcelona after it finished testing on Thursday. Most of the F1 teams at Jerez went straight to Estoril but some of the trucks heading for the Estoril test from Britain ran into trouble on the Franco-Spanish border at Irun on Thursday. Williams and Goodyear both had bricks thrown at the windows of their trucks while the Bridgestone transporter had its tires slashed and the MSAS transport company - which works with most F1 teams - also ran into trouble.
On Sunday evening the damaged Goodyear truck was still trying to get through to Estoril, where the Goodyear teams were running out of tires to test. Spanish police, however, were organizing a convoy to get trucks into Portugal.
Formula 1 truckers are not new to such problems. The French truck drivers had a similar strike in December while the 1992 French GP was run despite a truck strike which paralyzed the whole of France.