June 21, 2005
Horse 360 - Etats Unis Petit Prix
How many cars do you see here? 26? 20? 10 even? Try SIX, and this is just the just of the US Grand Prix.
Michelin teams have been ordered to explain their part in the US Grand Prix tyre fiasco at a hearing of Formula One's ruling body later this month. The hearing is set to take place in Paris on 29 June, the FIA said in a statement on Monday.
All seven teams using Michelin tyres withdrew from Sunday's race after the company admitted problems with them. Their request for the installation of temporary chicane to reduce speeds was rejected by the FIA.
The six cars which started the race were all on Bridgestone tyres, including eventual winner and Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher. Team boss Frank Williams said the Michelin teams were willing to race for no points as long as a chicane was added on to the circuit.
The problems in Indianapolis came to a head when two Toyotas crashed in free practice on Friday, thought to be as a result of tyre failure. Michelin checked all their tyres and conducted similar tests in France, concluding that there could be no guarantees of safety.
The technical director of Michelin, Frederic Henry-Biabaud blamed the specifics of the Indianapolis track and he hit out at motor racing's governing body, the FIA, for failing to agree to a compromise.
This is perhaps what is most frightening. Most F1 circuits have runoff areas at the edge of the track, Indianapolis doesn't. If this had happened at say Silverstone or Monza then the two Toyotas would have simply ended up in the gravel and little more would have been said.At the end of the day, drivers aren't paid to kill themselves and it's better in the interests of safety to have not raced rather than have another weekend like Imola in 1994 when Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna both died.
Team officials, F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, and at one point all 20 drivers were locked in lengthy talks in a bid to save the race. The teams emerged to say nine of them had agreed to race with a chicane at Schumacher's accident spot. But Ferrari objected and F1 officials had already ruled out making a change to the track. That's right Ferrari, who by clever working of concorde very nearly threw Minardi out of the Australian GP.
The Italian team vetoed a plan agreed by all the other teams to introduce a chicane at the final corner, which was where Ralf Schumacher had hit the wall at 340km/h on Friday.
Formula One has made itself look stupid on a number of occasions in recent years but the fiasco that was the 2005 United States Grand Prix took it to a new low. Any number of solutions were possible, even if all of them had their inherent problems. What was needed was someone who could cut through the fog of self-interest and find a solution to staging a race and it is worrying for the entire future of the sport, let alone its future in America, that no-one could do that on Sunday.
Posted by Rollo at 12:28