F1 at Indianapolis

Well, by now even those not even vaguely interested in F1 will know what a debacle the Indianapolis GP was yesterday. Metro made it their cover story and it was all over the national news. It was quite a shocking event – in all my 15 or so years of following F1 I have never seen anything quite like it. It’s a shame all round – for the crowd who had paid lots of cash to be there, for the drivers, for the fans at home and for the sport itself.

To add my opinion, the blame for the problem lies squarely with Michelin, a view that is reinforced by reading their correspondence with Charlie Whiting at the FIA – see also the FIA’s summary.

The teams were right not to race – they would be putting their drivers’ lives at risk. There was no way the FIA could have changed the rules; if they had created a chicane or let the Michelin teams run with different (untested) tyres, even if they started behind the Bridgestone teams and accepted no points, there would still be a chance that they would take out one of the Bridgestone runners and cause more of a controversy. Rules are rules and you can’t just change them because you mess up, even on this grand scale. It’s a sad day for F1, but what could anyone have done?

This sport has so much money, with so many contracts between teams, TV stations, sponsors, venues etc, and is such a behemoth of a logistical operation that I just do not understand why Michelin got in such a position in the first place.

Why did Michelin not bring a second set of tyres to the meeting? Cost savings? Why did all seven of the Michelin teams not press them to bring the second set? Why did Michelin suddenly have a problem this year, on this particular circuit – do they not test their equipment? What will happen in France?

It’s certainly interesting but ultimately very very bad for the sport – even a Schumacher whitewash year is better than this. It’s a shame as this has been the best season for many years.

2 Comments

  1. I agree with you, apart from the fact that they could have run and simply slowed down (to a ridiculous speed) at turn 13. The FIA stated this option together with changing the faulty tyre if considered dangerous every 10 laps at the cost of penalty points. Now I’ve written the word ‘dangerous’ I’m thinking that this maybe is not a safe solution. But neither was beer cans thrown onto the track.
    Now I understand more I can see that the seven teams that did not race was little more than a protest as they didn’t was to look foolish.
    I do agree that the fault lies with Michelin. I was however led to believe that they had 2 types of tyre, although the second consisted of the same faulty structure. They should provide teams with one competitive and another safe set of tyres.
    They should have certainly tested them. It’s not like turn 13 of Indianapolis was a surprise to them.

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  2. I’m sorry, but I don’t think that was an option. Suddenly slowing down at turn 13 to an unknown degree while others may be going fast (and the Bridgestone runners most certainly would have been) would have been very dangerous. And if the tyres did fail and hurt anyone else, be it another runner, a marshal or somebody in the crowd there would have been one hell of a lawsuit. Drivers, marshals and spectators have all died before and when Senna died Williams found themselves in the dock. How could they have taken any other decision other than the one not to run?

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