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Monday, June 20, 2005

Formula 1 debacle

Don't you just love the word debacle? I do, and now I have managed to use the word twice :-)

However, what I don't like is the complete debacle that was the US Formula 1 Grand Prix yesterday. For years F1 has been trying to break properly into the US market, and they have been succeeding with limited success. In recent years the dominance of Ferrari has been a huge turn off for racing fans in the States and coupled to the perceived lack of overtaking compared with IRL and Champ Cars you can understand why the American market is a tough nut to crack.

Now the dolorous blow may have been struck. The complete shambles that was yesterdays race must have been highly embarrasing for everyone and I am sure that American investors and hosts will think many times before renewing the contract.

Basically for those not in the know, two cars on Michelin tyre had accidents in the practice. Michelin were unable to reproduce the fault leaving no real clue as to the problem except that it was caused by turn 13 - the banked turn. Due to this, Michelin requested that they be allowed to fly in alternate tyres for the race, there was not enough time to get the tyre in for qualifying and these were also deemed unsafe anyway.

The Michelin teams asked for a chicane to be put in since this would forcibly slow the cars down. The FIA refused as this would have hampered The Bridgestone teams unfairly, and as much as I hate Ferrari, I must agree. the FIA suggested three alternatives: race with different tyres and risk being penalized because of the one-tyre rule (no tyres anyway); change tyres after 10 laps since Michelin thought that the fault was occuring after 10 laps of wear (fine but were there enough tyres for 7 changes? Plus, could still have contravened the rule about replacing tyres with ones that have gone similar distance and that the tyres must be demonstrably unsafe at that time); drive more slowly through the corner (okay, but had to be enforced carefully). None of these suggestions were sensible from a safety perspective.

All in all it was a mammoth cock-up on Michelin's part and the teams had little choice but not race or else risk a terrible accident. But the FIA hardly handled it well and after recent collusions with Ferrari it does not look good, though as I see it Ferrari are blameless in this. Trust has gone in this sport and the American market may now be closed to them for good.

As a sidebar, I hope they find the wankers who were throwing bottles of beer onto the track whilst the cars were circulating. Whilst i can sympathise with their anger and disappointment, for deliberately endangering drivers like that cannot be tolerated. Fuckwits!


Ade said...

I didn't think it'd be long before this post appeared... ;)
I must agree with you though - I was absolutely gobsmacked when the race began without a solution having been found. Michelin cocked up for sure, but the blame has to sit with the FIA for potentially ruining this sport's reputation for good.

Anonymous said...

I can attest to the fact that this debacle (I love that word too!) could prove to be devastating for the F1 series here in the states. This was the third US Gran Prix that I have attended, and I am still up in the air as to whether or not I will go back. Since I did not have to pay for plane tickets, rental cars, hotels, and meals, my only real loss was the price of the tickets, which was still fairly substantial. I cannot imagine how pissed off I would have been had I flown across the pond from Ireland, Germany, Brazil, Japan, etc ...

Living here in Indy, racing anything with wheels is kind of in your blood, so I was excited when F1 originally came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Of the three big races (US Gran Prix, Indy 500 & The Brickyard), the F1 race has been one of, if not my actual favorite. The fans are a blast, and the atmosphere is sensational, though the actual racing is not as exciting as the 500. At any rate, the F1's total and complete disregard for the fans might prove to be their undoing. Additionally, I do not understand why Michelin is not having more heat brought to bear on them.

Regardless of how it played out, in the end, the fans were the losers. F1 and Michelin sure seem like a bunch of gits right now.


Kav said...

I agree. I also feel sorry (to a lesser degree) for the drivers as well. There was little they could do yet most of them probably feel like shit at the moment.
David Coultard actually said on the parade lap that if the issue was still unresolved, he would elect to race. It was very strange to hear that over the radio.

Clearly Michelin screwed up. Big time. They will probably not be in F1 next year after this (lucky Bridgestone and Ferrari again). However with more and more that I am hearing from the people involved I think a lot of the blame for the lack of a show after the initial cock up has to land on the shoulders of the FIA and Mosley. The latest statement from Stoddart (a bridgestone runner) seems to suggest that Max failed to broker a deal that could have been made. This is going to run and run...

Anonymous said...

F-1 got off lucky at Indy. had this happened at a NASCAR race, it wouldn't have been a few bottles getting thrown, the track would have been burned down.