News and views on motorsports

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Indianapolis Debacle

I've actually been meaning to write a piece about tyres following Kimi's Nuburgring tyre problems but just haven't had the time to do so. But here this weekend we have a situation that I've never seen in my 22 years of watching the world championship.

I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about. The Michelin runners, having been advised by the French tyre supplier not to run because their tyres were unsafe, drove into the pits en masse during the warm up lap to retire from the US Grand Prix.

There are angry words everywhere. The ITV coverage featured some interviews with the American fans and there's a very obvious disgust and quite rightly so. The biggest losers are the definitely the fans.

So who's fault is this? In some sense its quite simple. Michelin declared their tyres unsafe. What were they expected to do? Send the cars out? And if that lead to another serious or even fatal accident, what then? Obviously, Michelin would not want to bear that responsibility and neither would the teams themselves. There was controversy enough in the Raikkonen case with many arguing he should have come in. But quite frankly, I wouldn't have in his position. He's there to win the race. And similarly, if Michelin let the teams run today, they would have pushed for all their worth. Screw the safety, winning comes first.

So, better be safe than sorry. Simply withdraw from the race. Obviously, a compromise solution would have been in the greatest interest of providing a show to the fans. A suggestion floated by Michelin and their respective teams for a chicane on the banking. But the FIA refused. They do have a point strictly speaking. Michelin didn't bring a tyre spec suitable for this race and racing on new tyres would be in contravention of the FIA rules.

But was anyone thinking of the fans in Indianapolis and across the world? Michelin were thinking of safety with its withdrawal. But surely the FIA could have accepted the situation and thought more about the fans then. As one American fan pointed out, this would not have happened in Indycars or NASCAR. Surely some sort of compromise would have been reached.

In any case, all this bullshit about tyres in this race and at the Nurburgring only came about because of all this silly one tyre regulation. If it were a fuel consumption Formula as in the 80s then if the car ran out of fuel, the driver would simply coast to safety. But today, its a tyre formula. And bloody hell, if you're a real race driver, you wouldn't stop until your tyres blew up. Limiting tyres like this was is as David Coulthard and many drivers have pointed out, is just plain dangerous. If last year's tyre regulation were still in force, I bet the Michelins would arguably have been just fine today.

Pitpass was absolutely livid in its comments regarding the race. You can read about it here. In its report, apparently many of the teams initially agreed to the Michelin proposals. All of course save the Ferrari team. Paul Stoddart reporting during the race here, that he only ran in the end because Jordan broke their agreement and chose to run. Blah, blah, blah.

This has been a year of excitement in the championship and certainly one with the highest level of controversy for some time. Sure, I'm angry that I didn't get to see a proper race. But more importantly, I bet Ferrari didn't want to compromise anymore than the FIA did. And today it was a cake walk for them to a 1-2 result and massive points gained in the championship. Raikkonen's lead over Schumacher has been whittled away enormously and suddenly, he's back in the hunt again. Not only that suddenly, Ferrari are points level with McLaren in the constructor's title. Bugger that!

This issue will be argued long and hard on many different mediums. I'm going to watch and see all the arguments before making a definitive stand on this. Besides, I'm too tired right now to keep my eyes open. Watch this space.


cccp said...

chicane or no chicane, turn 13 wasn't the issue. it was the newly surfaced track that was too rough on the tyres. turn 13 was a 'scapegoat' for michelin to make it a complete farce, just to cover their mistake. fia cannot back down from these uncalled-for threats and they did the reasonable thing.

Qwerty said...

Not a threat mate. It was a safety issue. In the end, it was the race was in the FIA's hands. Why would Michelin deliberately want to make this a farce? Thats plain silly. Ralf Schumacher's incident was clearly a serious one.

And yet, the Michelin teams offered a compromise and the teams were actually willing to forgo any points during the race and even promote all the Bridgestone runners to the head of the field. In return for one lousy chicane.

And why would any team want to deliberately make it a farce? They have sponsors and manufacturers behind them. Michelin has its entire corporate image behind them.

No sir, you don't see the picture. In the end, the choice, CHOICE, was in the FIA's hands. What were the teams supposed to do? Run the race unsafely?

malaysianfan said...

Of course turn 13 is the issue cccp, it's one of the fastest part of the track taken at speeds in excess of 200mph and if the tyres are deemed unsafe, a certain compromise should be enforce. The FIA can do it in 2003 at the Interlagos GP, understandably to please the Ferrari so what's wrong in doing it again for tha sake of safety of the other teams. Furthermore cccp, the FIA did allow a temporary chicane during the 1994 Barcelona GP

masher1 said...

until FIA mamagment fixes this stupid and dangerous "one set of tires per race crap" i will not be watching,buying tickets intill the rules are more in line with what F1 is all about leading edge RACING!
if i was holding tickes for up-coming races i would be wondering if similar bullshit would befall those races. so forget it spent my last dollar on formula 1 for some time to come
Excelent work fia i represent thosands of folks views and i think f1 is DEAD sooner or later R.I.P.

P.S. i spent $8794.27 cdn last yr on F1 related shit (tickets to 3 races and other costs) cash lost to F1 now

Masher1 x F1 Fan

F1 Freak said...

It seems to me that the Michelin clad teams were hiding behind the safety issue. FIA were completely within reason to say that if you can't go 200 MPH at turn 13 then GO SLOWER at a safe speed. If the issue had been that someone's engine couldn't go 200 mph how would you react if they requested that a chicane be put in to slow everyone else down? If your tires are not strong enough to handle fast speeds then that is just a limiting condition on your race car, just like having a slow engine. Why can't drivers be expected to tame their competitive spirit enough to drive slower than full throttle around one corner? That is selfish and egotistical and that is what prevented the race yesterday.