News and views on motorsports

Monday, June 20, 2005

Post Farce: Let Battle Commence

Well, the arguments have started already. In this post by a fellow Malaysian, he clearly sides with the FIA on this one. He's also left a message on my previous posting to which I've responded.

Clearly, one also needs to look at the big picture. Our friend argues that Michelin deliberately caused this mess in the first place. He cites that the Michelin tyres were plainly unsafe (true!) and that Michelin knew they would embarrasingly lose the race. From this the argument follows that they deliberately created this comical situation.

Now, I don't think a global company like Michelin are quite so petty in their thinking as that. They have won every race so far this year. And quite frankly, its beyond all their expectations. In competition you'd win some and lose some. But to argue that they couldn't take losing in the chin is just plain silly. I think they've demonstrated up to now a level of sportsmanship and class for at least owning up to their mistake. Even though such an admission is a massive blow to their image.

And even if they did lose badly here, there's still 10 races left in the championship to give it to Bridgestone and Ferrari a good thumping, which I fully expect they will. Magny Cours is up next, then Silverstone and dearth of Tilke designed tracks at which the French concern has proven itself superior.

But I think one must look at this argument put forward by PlanetF1 which I quote:

"Ross Brawn’s drinking buddy released a letter that he got from Michelin with some smart answers as to why they couldn’t use different tyres on Sunday.

But he’s changed the rules for Bridgestone prior to a race so we’ve been here before. It's surprising nobody’s questioned why Whiting changed the tyre rules at the beginning of the 2003 Brazilian GP.

Back in 2003 you were only allowed to take one wet tyre to races, so you had to make your mind up before the event. Bridgestone arrived at Interlagos with their legendary intermediate tyre that was quite good in wet and mixed conditions. Michelin had a full wet that could run in more rain.

When the heavens opened before the race, Whiting delayed the start because the Bridgestone runners wouldn’t have been able to make it round safely. It was clearly Bridgestone’s fault for not bringing a full wet tyre, but as the argument has gone this weekend – they knew the situation…

After delaying the start the field was then sent round Interlagos behind the Safety Car until enough water was taken off the circuit. Had they released the field when it was suitable for the Michelins on full wets, then Fisichella would never have won the race in his Jordan and Kimi Raikkonen may well have got the win.

Nobody complained because it was a safety issue. Fast forward two years and Whiting is not prepared to compromise in another safety situation. This interpretation of the rules when it suits them makes F1 fans deeply suspicius - it's like there was an agenda here from the FIA.

Of course Charlie Whiting would change the rules for Bridgestone. Because its Ferrari's tyre! Had the situation been in the reverse in Indianapolis, dear CCCP, you can very well expect that Charlie Whiting would have accomodated the Bridgestone runners and Ferrari quite well thank you very much.

My fellow Malaysian makes the claim that the Michelin runners were playing politics. Perhaps. But at the beginning 9 teams out of 10 were in agreement regarding the need for the FIA to take safety precautions. All of them except for Ferrari.

The choice, dear sir, as I said in my reply belonged to the FIA. And as I said in my previous post, what were the Michelin teams supposed to do? You make the argument yourself that the Michelin tyres were unsafe. Were they supposed to run in such unsafe conditions and risk fatalities? More than the embarassment of losing a race, if such a thing had come to pass, would be devastating to Michelin and for the teams.

Yet, the FIA had a choice. Having known the situation, they could have played it smart for the sake of the fans. Yet they chose not too. This is the point that you have quite a difficult time understanding. The FIA stuck to their guns instead of compromising with the MAJORITY of the teams.

And quite frankly, just what the hell big deal would it have been to stick one lousy chicane in Turn 13? Especially when the Michelin teams were ready to concede their points in the race and even promote the Bridgestone teams at the head of the field. After Ayrton Senna's death at Imola in 1994 the FIA readily stuck chicanes at Barcelona and god help us, at Eau Rouge at Spa for the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix. For the sake of safety. But not in Indianapolis. Why?

Would you sir, have preferred to see another Ralf Schumacher incident instead? Or perhaps the Senna incident would have been to more to sir's liking? Let me say it again, the Michelin runners were willing to CONCEDE POINTS and their world championship standings for the sake of running. Yes, quite frankly they were willing to be embarassed by the whole thing. Just as they are right now. What the hell did the FIA concede? Just who the hell is playing politics here?

I'll tell you who. The people who invented motor racing politics that is Ferrari. And that dumb ass FIA president bitch of theirs. And his good buddy Bernie.


Jay Steele said...

Well written, Qwerty. I remember when Whiting changed the rules for Bridgestone at Interlagos (Michael spun out in that race, and Alonso had a huge wreck in that race too).

Hypocracy and partiality has always followed the FIA like a fark cloud.

Max Mosely bears the full responsibility of this whole mess. He's responsible for the dangerous rules of the sport. He's responsible for not getting along with all the teams.

Max Mosely would be fired in any normal organization with the level of incompetence he demonstrates.

Lead on, Max.

cccp said...

fia had the choice to put in a chicane (which no one knows it's safe), but they chose not to. why? because it has rules to stick with, and it's the teams' responsibility to comply with the rules. if a chicane is installed, and a puncture at the chicane caused a driver to die, who is responsible? is putting a chicane a big deal? you bet!

michelin teams had the choice to go on with the race (drive through pitlane, slow down at the corner, constantly change tyres, use flown in tyres. all of which were safe solutions), but they chose not to. why? .... (you tell me)

it's all about choice isn't it? everyone has a choice. and when you have a choice, you have reasons for making the choice. so what is michelin's reason?

safety? is turn 13 unsafe? not even the case. only one puncture occurred at turn 13 (two punctures on ferrari alone occurred in barcelona). plus, no bridgestone teams had problem with turn 13 throughout the entire race. even michelin drivers knew the chicane at turn 13 wouldn't stop punctures anyways. so, is turn 13 unsafe?

so what is unsafe? michelin is. clear and simple. they had no choice but to admit the tyres were unsafe. yet they had the choice to not run the cars and to make a fool of themselves. did they care about the fans? hell no. all they cared was their "global company" image, no regrets!

turn 13 was the scapegoat. ferrari was the scapegoat. fia was the scapegoat. press see this. true fans on forums/websites see this. usgp attendees see this. only jealous observers, don't. just read up. have you heard any statement from michelin drivers? it was as though they were embarassingly told to shut up.

michelin knew there's nothing to do other than to quit the race, because no matter what was done, their tyres will blow. they can't be responsible for blood on their hands. however, instead of retiring quietly, they chose to make it a farce. they chose to attack the rivals, mock the system, and insult the fans.

it's all about choice isn't it?

and with you, i think michelin got away with it heroically.

Anonymous said...

I truely agree with the aspect of Michelin unfortunately being at fault, but I do not agree with part of the last statement. From my understanding FIA didn't let them use the flown in tires, for one and secondly although there are rules to administer to. I think it is FIA responsibilty to put on a proper show, in which they did not PERIOD. Michelin as well as FIA are to be blamed. It is all about safety. Instead of not letting them race with proper tires. Could they have let the Michelin teams raced with the new tires and then justed fined them for not following the rules. That would have been a fair agreement, with the teams having proper equipment and a proper race. Those that agrue with this thinking, say that the teams could have slowed down in turn 13. Come on, lets be real, what racer would really do that. They are out there to push the envelope. Plus if they were to slowed down in turn 13, then the race would be just as much of a farce as it was with only 6 cars.

Backyard Bob said...

CCCP: Putting in a chicane at the 11th hour wouldn't work because it wouldn't be fair to non-Michelin teams.

I agree with your assessment of Michelin conduct. If indeed their tires were unsafe, they were right to advise the Michelin teams to quit the race. The investigation into Senna's death resulted in people going to jail. This could have been similar.

I'm leaning towards blaming Michelin entirely.

marc said...

Let me start with backyard bob: "The investigation into Senna's death resulted in people going to jail. This could have been similar."

This statement is just flatout wrong.
All six defendants were cleared of manslaughter charges. History teachs better than faulty memories my friend.

I place some blame with Michelin, they did not provide a suitable tire for Indy. Yet to their credit they owned up to there mistake and offered solutions.

Solutions the FIA blew out of the water with very little thought. As is the norm with the FIA their first concern is with themselves and their jobs.

A quick look at the charges filed against the 7 teams instructs one thing. The FIA had very little to charge them with and choose the most generic of them to not only get a "conviction" but to shift blame away from themselves.

Bloney said...

I attended the event (I can't call it a race) Sunday. I have been following F1 for years now and have grown to love the sport via Speed channel, blogs (this one is great, by the way), magazines, and my collection of memorabilia. This was the first live event my wife and I attended and sadly, the last. We invested heavily in this event, although not as much as some of the global travelers we met.

I've read a lot of different posts on this subject and several things are clear: 1) F1 fans are split along team lines - Ferrari haters still blame Ferrari for everything, Ferrari lovers still find no fault in Ferrari 2) There is nothing but finger pointing between FIA, Michelin and the teams - no one is going to admit fault 3) the fans were, and still are, the ones that suffered - I seriously doubt there will be any refunds, with or without lawsuits. And as time passes, this ill treatment will be long forgotten.

I believe as fans we vote with our dollars. And let's face it - the sponsors are the money train for F1 teams. If we voiced our dismay to sponsors and they pulled their revenues, we would have a chance at expressing ourselves. Alas, this would be a very slow and tedious process, so the reality is that this incident will go unpunished.

One thing I don't understand - if there truly was a safety concern, why did the teams qualify on these tires? Seems to me if safety was the biggest concern the cars would not have been allowed to go out at all! I mean if it were my son and I questioned equipment safety, I would have said "leave it in the garage." Of course, I can hear the argument being "the tire didn't fail until after 10 laps (or so)" but I for one don't buy that. It was either a safety issue or not a safety issue.

Another thing I find upsetting is the drivers who empathize with the fans - if they truly believe this was a travesty - why not observe a "sick out" in France?! Come down with the flu and miss the race - now that is a statement! Yeah, fat chance!

Finally, the opening events and parade lap to me was the ultimate slap in the face. I find no excuse in this farce, nor do I believe this installation lap fulfills their obligation in any way (although I've not researched that in the rules yet).

This just sucked and I feel like a fool that invested in beachfront property in Phoenix... Fool me once, shame on you! There'll be no second time for this fan. Now, let's check into tickets for the Indy 500 - the IRL definitely knows how to treat its fans!

Anonymous said...

I really agree with bloney. The parade lap was really a slap in the face. I was really looking forward to this year's race, so I was kinda optimistic when all of the cars made it to the grid. But when the Michelin teams pulled into the pits at the end of the parade lap, I was totally disapointed. It was like something died; I felt like I was crying inside. I don't know if any of you heard it or not, but after the race, when the drivers went to the podium, I heard chants from the fans saying "Fuck F1! Fuck F1! Fuck F1!" I really sympathize with the fans that said this. I don't think that Formula 1 is going to come back to the United States after what happened. Or if they do, no one is going to show for the race. The damage has been done. Now all that matters is whether or not the FIA (now known as the Fucking Idiot Association) will try to repair the damage done to the American fanbase.