JUNE 22, 2005
A couple of things to consider
The last few days have seen considerable argument being thrown around about what was right and what was wrong in Indianapolis. It is worth considering a couple of precedents which will no doubt feature in the discussions in the next week.
In 1994, for example, in the turmoil that followed the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, immediate rules changes were introduced on the grounds of safety. Max Mosley has since explained that this was done by threatening to cancel the World Championship. There were several accidents when the modified cars were tested, notably when Pedro Lamy suffered serious injuries when the rear wing of his car collapsed when he was testing at Silverstone. Ligier reported two rear wing failures in testing at Lurcy-Levis. the FIA argued that if cars were build properly they would not fail. However, in Barcelona the World Championship leaders Mild Seven Benetton announced that it could not guarantee the safety of its cars. The FIA responded by saying that in that situation the team could not be allowed to race.
There followed a series of meetings before a solution was found.
"Some say Mosley has been forced to back down and that the FIA has been driven out of F1," we wrote at the time. "Others say he has won. The reality is simple. Formula 1 has won. The Saturday papers will say "F1 Peace Pact" rather than "F1 at War". An achievement in crisis management. Everyone seems happy. Everyone thinks he has won."
A chicane was built at the back of the circuit.
The second precedent which will no doubt be mentioned was in Brazil in 2003 when it emerged that neither Bridgestone nor Michelin had suitable tyres for the conditions at Interlagos. At the time the FIA had ruled that tyre manufacturers could only take one type of wet tyre to a race. Both tyre companies decided to take only intermediate tyres to Brazil. When it rained heavily before the race, the tyres were not suitable for the conditions and the race was delayed until the rain eased a little and was then started behind a Safety Car. This was the sensible thing to do and no-one complained.
"Given the wet weather conditions commonly experienced in Brazil, it is perhaps surprising that the teams decided to bring intermediate, rather than wet weather tyres," an FIA statement said at the time, but no action was taken.
What is not clear is why this situation is any different from what happened at Indianapolis when unsuitable tyres created a problem which required a flexible solution. In the case of Brazil there were regulations to cover the time and the Safety Car start but in Indianapolis there were no regulations to cover Michelin's problem.
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