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Formula 1 Fiasco

Old 6/21/05, 05:49 PM
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I was there, and a bit unhappy with the way things went.

Clearly, Michelin is ultimately at fault for bringing inadequate tires. Keep in mind, though, that Bridgestone has already had plenty of experience with the new track surface with the 500, and likely learned something that helped them this weekend. Both the IRL (Bridgestone/Firestone) and NASCAR (Goodyear) had to cancel tests at the Brickyard when the tires turned out to be unsuitable for the newly paved and ground surface.

Still though, I think that Michelin did the right thing in withdrawing when it became clear that their tires would be unsafe. The FIA had the opportunity to change the track by adding a chicane, which would have allowed a show to be put on for the 150,000 fans who had paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars to be there. They refused to do this, and have to share some of the responsibility with Michelin.

On the plus side, Champ Car is offering to honor USGP tickets at the Cleveland Grand Prix this weekend. Too bad I already paid $90 for a pair of tickets.
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Old 6/21/05, 07:18 PM
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I don't know what to say about this. It wouldn't have been that big of a deal to me if it didn't happen here. Sorry you had to go through that DanS.

Now the FIA is calling for a hearing on 6/29 to try to get the 7 teams to pay back the Indy ticketholders. I think that everyone involved (Michelin, the FIA, all 10 teams, Bridgestone (for not sharing safety info) and FOM) should split the cost of refunding the tickets. Everyone handled it the wrong way and nobody wants to take responsibility.

This doesn't make me not want to watch anymore. I'll still follow F1. I just won't ever watch that race ever again. Or better yet, I'll probably just use that dvd to record the French GP.
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Old 6/22/05, 02:49 PM
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A personal account by Paul Stoddart of Minardi about the facts that led up to and caused the fiasco at Indy.

f1-live.com

there is no question in my mind that the farce that occurred on Sunday, June 19, 2005 at Indianapolis was the responsibility of the FIA President, Max Mosley, and compounded by the lack of support from Jean Todt.
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Old 6/22/05, 03:25 PM
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Thanks for the link, Steve...very informative!
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Old 6/22/05, 05:14 PM
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I don't blame the teams at all. They would have put themselves in a very bad legal position had they chosen to run, despite Michelin's advice that the tires were unsafe. What if a driver had been killed, or worse yet, some fans. I also can't really blame FOM, as Bernie supported the idea of a chicane. I would hope that if the teams are fined, Michelin will do the right thing and pick up the tab.
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Old 6/22/05, 05:52 PM
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Great link. Mosely may be the culpable party here, but I still cannot believe that anybody would have seriusly supported the idea of a chicane. What that says to me is that yes, our tires are unsafe and the chicane is the only way to bring a level playing field to the race. If I were Bridgestone, I would reply that we have solved this issue and now you want us to give up our competitive advantage? I don't think so.

Maybe the ultimate solution is to have only one supplier of tires for F1. I doubt that will happen. Rather, I'd like to see F1 lift the restriction on the number of tires teams can use during the race weekend.

No matter what eventually happens, F1 may have burned itself on their own funeral pyre in Indy this past weekend. And that's truly a shame.
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Old 6/22/05, 06:35 PM
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Until there is a competitive American racing team in the mix I won't watch it. For good measure, I won't buy Michelins either.
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Old 6/22/05, 11:06 PM
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Michelin makes dang good street tires. This won't influence my next buying decision. That will belong to my pocketbook.

As far as a competitive team here next year, well, I wouldn't hold my breath. I've followed F1 since I was a kid in the 50's. Yep, that dates me.

So for this to happen, well, all I can say is Sayonara F1 in the US. And that saddens me.
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Old 6/23/05, 04:13 PM
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Has anyone seen the proposed rules for the 2008 season? Spec gearbox, brakes, ECU, tires, and aero package. Aerodynamic grip would be reduced about 90%, with mechanical grip increased with a return to wider cars running slicks. With the cars relying primarily on mechanical grip, passing should be increased. And with a single tire maker, fiascos like this weekend shouldn't happen.
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Old 6/26/05, 06:59 PM
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Unfortunately that's 3 years down the road.
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Old 6/27/05, 04:03 PM
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Depending on which rumors you believe, thare may be only one tire manufacturer left by next year.
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Old 6/28/05, 02:31 AM
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What follows is the transcript from a Q&A session with Max Moseley. Long I know, but definately worth reading :

THE UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX
QUESTIONS TO MAX MOSLEY
22.06.2005


What about the American fans who travelled long distances and spent a lot of money to see a race with only 6 cars?
My personal view, and it is only my personal view, is that Michelin should offer to compensate the fans on a fair basis and ask the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to coordinate this. Then Tony George and Bernie Ecclestone should jointly announce that the US Grand Prix will take place at Indianapolis in 2006 and that anyone who had a ticket this year would be entitled to the same ticket free-of-charge next year. But I emphasise, that’s just my personal view.

Should you not have just forgotten about the rules and put on a show for the fans?
You cannot do that if you wish to remain a sport. Formula One is a sport which entertains. It is not entertainment disguised as sport. But even more importantly Formula One is a dangerous activity and it would be most unwise to make fundamental changes to a circuit without following tried and tested procedures. What happened was bad, but it can be put right. This is not true of a fatality.

Why did you refuse the request of some of the teams to install a chicane?
The decision was taken (quite rightly in my view) by the FIA officials on the spot and notified to the teams on the Saturday evening. I did not learn about it until Sunday morning European time. They refused the chicane because it would have been unfair, against the rules and potentially dangerous.

Why unfair?
Because modern Formula One cars are specially prepared for each circuit. To change radically a circuit like Indianapolis, which has very particular characteristics, would be a big disadvantage to the teams which had brought correct equipment to the event.

Is this why Ferrari objected?
No, Ferrari had nothing whatever to do with the decision. They were never consulted. Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi, as the Bridgestone teams, were not involved.

Why would a chicane have been unfair, it would have been the same for everyone?
No. The best analogy I can give is a downhill ski race. Suppose half the competitors at a downhill race arrive with short slalom skis instead of long downhill skis and tell the organiser to change the course because it would be dangerous to attempt the downhill with their short skis. They would be told to ski down more slowly. To make the competitors with the correct skis run a completely different course to suit those with the wrong skis would be contrary to basic sporting fairness.

Never mind about ski-ing, what about Formula One?
OK, but it’s the same from a purely motor racing point of view. Suppose some time in the future we have five teams with engines from major car companies and seven independent teams with engines from a commercial engine builder (as in the past). Imagine the seven independent teams all have an oil surge problem in Turn 13 due to a basic design fault in their engines. They would simply be told to drop their revs or slow down. There would be no question of a chicane.

All right, but why against the rules, surely you can change a circuit for safety reasons?
There was no safety issue with the circuit. The problem was some teams had brought the wrong tyres. It would be like making all the athletes in a 100m sprint run barefoot because some had forgotten their shoes.

How can you say a chicane would be “potentially dangerous” when most of the teams wanted it for safety reasons?
A chicane would completely change the nature of the circuit. It would involve an extra session of very heavy braking on each lap, for which the cars had not been prepared. The circuit would also not have been inspected and homologated with all the simulations and calculations which modern procedures require. Suppose there had been a fatal accident – how could we have justified such a breach of our fundamental safety procedures to an American court?

But it’s what the teams wanted.
It’s what some of the teams wanted because they thought it might suit their tyres. They wanted it because they knew they could not run at full speed on the proper circuit. We cannot break our own rules just because some of the teams want us to.

Why did the FIA stop the teams using a different tyre flown in specially from France?
It is completely untrue that we stopped them. We told them they could use the tyre, but that the stewards would undoubtedly penalise them to ensure they gained no advantage from breaking the rules by using a high-performance short-life tyre just for qualifying. We also had to make sure this did not set a precedent. However the question became academic, because Michelin apparently withdrew the tyre after trying it on a test rig.

Michelin were allowed to bring two types of tyre – why did they not have a back-up available?
You would have to ask Michelin. Tyre companies usually bring an on-the-limit race tyre and a more conservative back-up which, although slower, is there to provide a safety net if there are problems.

Is it true that you wrote to both tyre companies asking them to make sure their tyres were safe?
Yes, we wrote on 1 June and both replied positively. The letter was prompted by incidents in various races in addition to rumours of problems in private testing.

So, having refused to install a chicane, what did the FIA suggest the Michelin teams should do?
We offered them three possibilities. First, to use the type of tyre they qualified on but with the option to change the troublesome left rear whenever necessary. Tyre changes are allowed under current rules provided they are for genuine safety reasons, which would clearly have been the case here. Secondly, to use a different tyre – but this became academic when Michelin withdrew it as already explained. Thirdly, to run at reduced speed through Turn 13, as Michelin had requested.

How can you expect a racing driver to run at reduced speed through a corner?
They do it all the time and that is exactly what Michelin requested. If they have a puncture they reduce their speed until they can change a wheel; if they have a brake problem they adjust their driving to overcome it. They also adjust their speed and driving technique to preserve tyres and brakes when their fuel load is heavy. Choosing the correct speed is a fundamental skill for a racing driver.

But that would have been unfair, surely some would have gone through the corner faster than others?
No, Michelin wanted their cars slowed in Turn 13. They could have given their teams a maximum speed. We offered to set up a speed trap and show a black and orange flag to any Michelin driver exceeding the speed limit. He would then have had to call in the pits – effectively a drive-through penalty.

How would a driver know what speed he was doing?
His team would tell him before the race the maximum revs he could run in a given gear in Turn 13. Some might even have been able to give their driver an automatic speed limiter like they use in the pit lane.

But would this be real racing?
It would make no difference to the race between the Michelin cars. Obviously the Bridgestone cars would have had an advantage, but this would have been as a direct result of having the correct tyres for the circuit on which everyone had previously agreed to race.

Did the Michelin teams have any other way of running the race if the circuit itself was unchanged?
Yes, they could have used the pit lane on each lap. The pit lane is part of the circuit. This would have avoided Turn 13 altogether. It is difficult to understand why none of them did this, because 7th and 8th places were certainly available, plus others if any of the six Bridgestone runners did not finish. There were points available which might change the outcome of the World Championship.

But that would have looked very strange – could you call that a race?
It would seem strange, but it would absolutely have been a race for the 14 cars concerned. And they would all have been at full speed for most of each lap. That would have been a show for the fans, certainly infinitely better than what happened.

Did not Michelin tell them quite simply not to race at all?
No. Michelin said speed must be reduced in Turn 13. They were apparently not worried about the rest of the circuit and certainly not about the pit lane, where a speed limit applies. If the instruction had been not to race at all, there would have been no point in asking for a chicane.

Didn’t the Michelin teams offer to run for no points?
I believe so, but why should the Bridgestone teams suddenly find they had gone all the way to America to run in a non-Championship race? It would be like saying there could be no medals in the Olympic rowing because some countries had brought the wrong boats.

What about running the race with the chicane but with points only for the Bridgestone teams?
This would start to enter the world of the circus, but even then the race would have been open to the same criticisms on grounds of fairness and safety as a Championship race run with a chicane. It would have been unfair on Bridgestone teams to finish behind Michelin teams on a circuit which had been specially adapted to suit the Michelin low-speed tyres to the detriment of Bridgestone’s high-speed tyres, and the circuit would no longer have met the rules.

Have you ordered Michelin to produce details of all recent tyre failures as reported on a website?
We cannot order Michelin to do anything. We have no contractual relationship with them. Their relationship is with the teams. However, we have an excellent understanding with both tyre companies and with many of the teams’ other suppliers. We find they always help us with technical information when we ask them.

Wouldn’t Formula One be better if one body were responsible for the commercial side as well as the sport?
No, this is precisely what the competition law authorities in many parts of the world seek to avoid. It is not acceptable to them that the international governing body should have the right both to sanction and to promote. This would potentially enable it to further its own financial interests to the detriment of competitors and organisers. Apart from the legal aspect there would be an obvious and very undesirable conflict of interest if a body charged with administering a dangerous sport had to consider the financial consequences of a decision taken for safety reasons.. You can be responsible for the sport or for the money, but not both.

Didn’t this entire problem arise because new regulations require one set of tyres to last for qualifying and the race?
No. The tyre companies have no difficulty making tyres last. The difficult bit is making a fast tyre last. There is always a compromise between speed and reliability. There have been one or two cases this season of too much speed and not enough reliability. Indianapolis was the most recent and worst example.

Finally, what’s going to happen on June 29 in Paris?
We will listen carefully to what the teams have to say. There are two sides to every story and the seven teams must have a full opportunity to tell theirs. The atmosphere will be calm and polite. The World Motor Sport Council members come from all over the world and will undoubtedly take a decision that is fair and balanced.
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Old 6/28/05, 07:24 AM
  #33  
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Interesting dialog - I think there is shared responsibility among multiple parties, with no one contributing factor standing above the rest. As one of the people who spent $105 for a ticket, I did stay to the end. As far as F1 being damaged in the US, if there are compensations made, I think people will move on and a USGP will be held next year. Many are quick to say "they messed up so I am never going to ... again". Rather than do that, I hope the situation is resolved with the fans in mind. There's nothing like making amends for something that did not go so well.
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Old 6/28/05, 07:38 AM
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Thanks James!

Though I'm not buying all of Mr. Moseley's excuses. They seem to contridict some other information I have read. Example . .I thought 9 out of the ten teams ok'd a chicane, that is a little more than "some". And I thought Mr. Moseley made the final call not the FIA officials "on the spot".
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Old 6/28/05, 03:27 PM
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Press release from Michelin:

MICHELIN EXTENDS GESTURE TO F1 SPECTATORS AT U.S. GRAND PRIX

I'm sure they will eventually announce how to get reimbursed.
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Old 6/28/05, 04:23 PM
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I'm pretty happy to be getting my money back, but wondering which 20,000 out of the 140,000 people that were there will get free tickets for next year. It's a good start, though.
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Old 6/28/05, 04:48 PM
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Exactly, that part doesn't make much sense. But, I'm glad Michelin is doing this on their own. I would have been totally amazed if a gesture like this had come from the FIA or FOM. They don't even like putting money back into the sport.
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Old 6/28/05, 06:59 PM
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A refund goes a long way ... Michelin is to be commended.
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Old 6/29/05, 12:54 AM
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Good, Michelin have taken the lead in trying to sort this out. You can guarantee that all the FIA will do is moan severely and try to fine the teams involved.
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Old 6/29/05, 04:17 AM
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Now it looks like the teams might strike......

F1 teams 'ready to boycott races'

Could this happen again in F1?
Formula One teams could boycott future races if they get severe penalties for their role in the US Grand Prix fiasco, Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said.
Stoddart said it would be wrong for F1's governing body the FIA to hand out "draconian bans" to the seven teams at Wednesday's disciplinary hearing.

"Would we race after a (heavy) penalty? I think we'd have a meeting and you wouldn't guarantee it," Stoddart said.

But FIA president Max Mosley countered: "The governing body will always win."

In an interview in Monday's Guardian, Mosley dismissed fears of a strike and said: "I'm not concerned if they take an antagonistic line.

"What are they going to do? If they go on strike, they're simply cutting off their nose to spite their face. That won't happen."

Mosley told BBC Radio Five Live that punishment could range from a reprimand to a ban for life - but he added that he thought the punishment would fall between those two extremes.


He told the Guardian he "wouldn't exclude a ban or two" but recognised that other members of the disciplinary council were unlikely to go that far.

"If it emerges that the guilt of certain teams is of a certain level, then a ban will be justified," he told the newspaper. "There are various other possibilities - points being deducted, a fine or reprimand."

Stoddart, also speaking to Five Live, said: "That is positively frightening, because if it is anything more than a reprimand [it would be wrong] - the teams were totally innocent victims, as was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as were the American public.

"It could be anything - I have heard unofficial reports of what it might be, ranging from a $2.5m fine to a suspended ban, to all kinds of possible things. I would hope Max would come to his senses but who knows?"



If the teams were hit with a heavy ban, Stoddart said, "there would be an appeal, it would go to the (FIA) court of appeal, and then it would end up in the civil courts".

Stoddart reiterated his view that Mosley was to blame for the fiasco.

He said Mosley should take "total responsibility" for the failure to reach a compromise at Indianapolis.

Mosley has again defended his decision to block a plan to build a chicane at the circuit's final corner.


The fiasco at Indy was caused by a design aspect of Michelin tyres
He said the FIA could not change its rules just because some teams had not taken the right equipment to a race.

But Stoddart, whose team use Bridgestone tyres and did race in the US, admitted that while Michelin had erred, it had made every effort to solve the problem.

"There was an issue with the bonding between the sidewall and tread (of the tyres)," he said.

"They chartered a private jet and flew in replacement tyres and found they had the same problem. That was force majeure in my opinion. At that point what we needed was crisis management and what we got from Mosley as usual was management in crisis."

Stoddart denied Mosley's claims that to have put in a chicane would have led to legal and insurance problems in the US.
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