JUNE 22, 2005
The fans respond, Part 1
We have received hundreds of responses to our request for your opinions about what happened at Indianapolis last weekend. The responses are published in the order they were received. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of grandprix.com.
While everyone points the finger of blame at each other, I think it's important to separate the questions of who caused the fiasco and who had the power to fix it. In this case it seems pretty clear that Max (Mosley) had the power to put in a chicane and save the day for the fans, sponsors and billions of TV viewers. So it is for this reason that the blame for the sham of a race should be placed at Max's feet. I made the mistake of attending the the Austrian race in 2002. After Ferrari's games there I left the TV off for the rest of the season. After the Indy fiasco, I may leave it off until 2008.
Kevin Smith, The Experience Store, Inc.
I have tried to say lots, but in summation, Max has to go.
I find myself siding with the FIA (even I'm surprised) in this battle. Michelin and their teams are 100% responsible for the THEIR error(s). If it had been Bridgestone requesting a chicane, would Michelin, Toyota, Renault, BAR, or Williams have agreed? You might have seen them jumping for joy as they declined to help Bridgestone. Michelin runners were free to change tires as much as they wanted, naturally with penalties. A driver sometimes has to nurse home a car due to damage or tire wear instructing Michelin drivers them to stay off the banking is a valid way for the Michelin teams to run (not really race) and score points. It would not have helped the spectators. Nursing a car the entire race would not look good. Rubens Barrichello's comment about Bahrain is relevant because Bridgestone did not provide a tire that was safe for a race distance and he had to stop. Should he get special treatment because it was a tire problem? Montoya didn't get a break on his red light running, why should Michelin get a break that simultaneously penalizes Bridgestone?
The race in the US has been a total disaster, but it is important that those responsible take the blame. Agreed, for a while now F1 is turning into a circus and what is the reason for this? Simply a given team for a long time now has been doing a better job than the rest and they are unhappy with it. Let us be honest, ridiculous as the single tyre rule may be, who are the ones who did request it? Who are the ones who under a disguise of cost-cutting want a reduction in testing and why? The single tyre rule had always the potential to explode into the face of those who wanted it most and now that it has happened, they still want to blame to rest. We are really playing politics here? In retrospect, the FIA was correct in standing firm on the rules and the "so-called" fight about the soul of F1 has nothing to do with this. Again who was affected most by what happened over the weekend? Those who wanted the new rules in the first place. Now that it has blown up in there own face, they want to cry "wolf". Ferrari was correct in staying out this matter, however as expected they are blamed for this mess. Really, if I was Ferrari, I would seriously consider to pull out the sport altogether. Because no matter what happens, they are blamed by always the same group of people. Sorry to those teams who are so eager to beat Ferrari, but this time you have overplayed your hand. Show some integrity and admit that you are responsible for the mess and not the FIA or Ferrari. You have forced the FIA to introduce the same rules you had intended to stop Ferrari and which now have come back to bite you.
Andre De Bleser, South Africa
Is it possible for F1 to operate without the FIA? If it is that seems like a sensible idea because there are too many middle men and people to point the finger at in F1. One organization, fully accountable and fully passionate about racing.
What can be said about the depressing show we've all watched last Sunday? There's a lot of obvious stuff to say, the first being "Michelin messed up big time!" After all, wasn't all this about bad tyres from a company that is supposed to be in the sport for marketing? So the big loser in all that should be no other than Michelin, right? Unfortunately, whoever ran the whole show (FIA, Bridgestone/Ferrari or whatever) seemed to turn it all in some of those twisty police-movie plots where everything turns in the last moment, and they did it masterfully. After the public display of arrogance and disrespect for the public and for the sport (which is a lot more than the teams and drivers, is a whole entity with almost 100 years of history), today it is no surprise to see a lot of people out here feeling almost sympathetic to Michelin. In the end, the people who ran the show turned the incompetent guys into some kind of "underdog heroes". All in all the French tyre boys, behind their big faces of embarassment, must be smiling at the whole mess and thinking that even the best of their marketing staff couldn't find a better way to save their faces after such a huge mess. Many solutions could have been found, even finding a way to penalize the Michelin-run teams, like forcing them to do a pit-stop to change their tyres into the ones brought in a hurry from France in the first two laps (what would give the Bridgestone guys an advantage of about 25s in the very beginning of the race, but would allow the race to go on as planned) , or even to force everyone to run on Bridgestones, what would both be a huge advantage to the three teams whose cars were specifically designed to run on these tyres and a big marketing blow to Michelin, who would have to see their Japanese rivals pose as heroes of the hour. Anyway, no such thing happened.
Guilherme Zahn, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Formula 1 needs a leader, not a bureaucrat. Max Mosley and the FIA have proven to be effective at creating stringent regulations and forcing the teams to obey them. However, the teams have followed the rules out of obligation, not because any common vision was shared between them and the FIA. The teams want to race and sell automobiles; the FIA seems to be mainly concerned with being seen as important. One assumes that Bernie and FOM have a better vision of what Formula 1 should be (also what the average spectator wants to see), but they are essentially powerless to make anything happen. Bernie is often referred to as the F1 "Supremo", but as we saw in Indianapolis he is little more than an influential negotiator. Formula 1 will continue to stagnate unless the FIA begins working more closely with the commercial side of the sport.
Max Mosley has to go. He has ignored the fans interests time and time again and Sunday was the final straw. He effectively 'black flagged' the fans on Sunday by failing to compromise on HIS rules. We, the fans, didn't choose the Michelin tyres and yet we were the ones who were ultimately penalised. Can I appeal to the FIA International Court of Appeal? The underlying concept of any sport, not just F1, has to be entertaining the fans; otherwise what is the point of it all? If Mr Mosley can't see this, then perhaps we need to replace him with someone who can.
Ashley Manaley, Australia
I am at the point that I really don't care if they return or not. The IRL and NASCAR drivers are accessible to the fans when possible, whereas the F1 drivers and crews act like prima donnas. This sport is in big trouble, and I think the US Grand Prix is history. Knowing Tony George as we all do, he will certainly find his own solution to the problem. Just ask CART.
Ken Guarnery, Indianapolis
I have been an avid follower of F1 racing for 30 years and I have attended races in Britain (many times) as well as Belgium and Hungary and now I find myself increasingly disillusioned and saddened by the current state of what I once regarded as the best sport in the world. Ultimately I believe the FIA must take responsibility for the debacle that was the US GP. They are the governing body and the buck stops there. Far too often in recent times Max Mosley has tried to shift the blame and duck the responsibility for the consequences of his decisions. He crafts rules for competitive people and then urges them to be cautious, surely an unrealistic standpoint. There are precedents for temporary chicanes on safety grounds (Barcelona 94) and for accommodation of inappropriate tyre choice by one of two competing companies (starting Brazil 03 behind the safety car). For the FIA to remain rigid and uncompromising in the face of a clear and admitted error is indicative of an organisation that has lost its way, its impartiality and its understanding of why it exists. The FIA should not allow commercial interests to come before the good of the sport and it is the only organisation that can be the arbiter in such instances yet on Sunday June 19 2005 it missed an opportunity to demonstrate that it is a necessary and worthwhile organisation. Somebody asked on Sunday what message was being sent by Formula 1 to the fans, the answer sadly is that Formula 1 does not care enough about its fans to give them what they have paid for.
Paul Sergeant, UK
Twenty-four hours has passed since I watched the death of my favorite sport live on television, a very public suicide by a sport that, in America at least, was barely alive on life support. I have read so many angry, vitrolic threads on many fan forums. I am more saddened than angry though I felt that emotion when I watched the Michelin teams roll into the pit lane after the parade lap. Why here? Why Indy? Why did this coming confrontation (and it was coming) over the tires and tire rules come to a head at Indy - directly in front of the very same fans in which the teams, the FIA and sponsors want to win over? This action effectively kills any chance for this sport to catch on with American fans. I'm soul searching for a reason to cling to the sport and keep it up with it. And I can't find one. For me, this is the last straw. I have had enough of this sport spiralling fully out of control, running head long into the inevitable brick wall of reality at 320kph. It ends here. Who's the blame? There's plenty to go around, even to those parties who had nothing to do with the situation. Michelin, the FIA, Ferrari. All have some culpability but my anger falls on Michelin in particular. Goodbye F1.
It was interesting that when Martin Brundle asked Bernie Ecclestone on the grid what was going on it was obvious he had no control or any idea whatsoever that he knew how to solve the problem. When Brundle asked Slavica Ecclestone what was going on, it was equally obvious that she didn't want to be involved. Well maybe she should. She earns billions from all this. So where does this leave F1 as a viable entity? The answer is exactly where it was before the debacle. In a week or two there will be another race and all will be forgotten.The fans being screwed by a six car grid will be ignored as it will be gone. Formula 1 needs a complete overhaul which can really only be done by a new structure such as the manufacturers breakaway group. What if Ferrari doesn't join? Ferrari showed yesterday you can have a race with only six cars. I am sure you can have a better one with 18 even if none of them are red.
Thank you for the opportunity to vent, cry, admonish, and let off steam! All parties are actually in the right. The FIA should not "have to" change a race course and put in chicanes because a company made a mistake. But they have done it in the past because of accidents - on the grounds of safety. The tyre supplier should provide safe products at all times, same as the manufacturers, but things do happen and recalls happen. If a wing or some component breaks at the next race is the FIA going to sue/disqualify/ban the manufacturing team! The tyre supplier was right in advising all of its users not to use an unsafe product. And in the interests of safety, the sport, the paying public a negotiated compromise was possible - if Ferrari was willing to negotiate! The teams were correct in not racing cars with suspect or inferior equipment. To ask them to deliberately race with unsafe equipment defies logic, And then to tell them to hand the race to Ferrari by stopping every 10 laps. If JPM can be adjudged to be driving dangerously by slowing down (as happened in Monaco), then surely by the same rule if all the suspect tyred teams all slowed down in a corner then the FIA would have to black-flag them, and/or disqualify them! The situation of egos meant that the decision-maker took it upon himself to ignore commonsense, to kowtow to Ferrari's wishes, to ignore the paying public, and to pontificate about safety and speed. If the teams had followed the FIA's advice and stopped every 10 laps the result would have been exactly as we got: A Ferrari Fiasco! Is everyone out of step except Ferrari? Please, please Ferrari, come back and join the rest of the teams. Please, please, can we have one control tyre. Please, please, can we have an enforced tyre change between 45% and 55% of the race distance.
John A. Gibson, Meaford, Ontario
I started becoming a fan of F1 in the mid-1980s when the late Michele Alboreto in a Ferrari lost the World Championship race to Alain Prost in a McLaren (due mainly through unreliability of the Ferrari). After that season I was hooked. I loved watching the rise of Senna and the delicious battles between Mansell, Senna, Prost and Piquet. It was so exciting and often I did not know who to root for. Then Senna was tragically killed so the battle that could have been (Senna - Schumacher) was not to be. Prost retired as champion, Mansell went to the States, Piquet hung up his gloves and a new generation emerged. The battles between Schumacher - Hill, Schumacher - Villeneuve and Schumacher - Hakkinen were not in the same league of excitement as those in the 80s but were still worth watching. Then came the domination of Schumacher and Ferrari and my interest started to wane. Then in 2004 Jensen Button showed his mantle and in 2005 he was joined by Alonso and a re-emerged Raikkonen. I thought it was the start of something wonderful but after Indianapolis 2005 I so not have much hope anymore for the sport. If nothing happens soon the sport is dead. I would not be surprised if some teams leave the F1 bandwagon and start their own series. If this happens I will never follow this type of motor-racing again. I say stop this rubbish now! I saw some old 1970s archive footage of Niki Lauda racing a Ferrari. I remember that the tires were slicks, gear change meant that the driver had to let go of the steering wheel to manipulate a tiny gear stick and that Lauda spent most of the time sliding through the corners and fighting hard to keep the massive doses of horsepower under control. Now that was racing! Why can't we do that now? Get rid of all the driver aids. Stop this stupid refueling policy. Races should be won on the track through sheer driver skills and not in the pits.
Mark Veling, Belgium
Although it hurts me terribly to say it, I agree with Max Mosley in his decisions for the US Grand Prix. One must not change the rules to accommodate a team (or teams, no matter how many) that has pushed the envelope and finds it has gone too far. Nobody called for changes to make Ferrari more competitive in qualifying, or to bring Minardi and Jordan into contention. That's the whole point of sport - the best succeed and the rest fail. And lest anyone forget it, F1 is about engineering the best car. The drivers get the glory, but they don't deserve it. In this case the engineers from Michelin deserve the blame, and those from Ferrari, Jordan, Minardi, and of course Bridgestone deserve the credit even if it all made for a horrendous debacle. That said, I believe that Mr Mosley, indeed the FIA itself, is to blame for the current state of Formula 1. Mosley acts like an overlord who must be obeyed. He isn't. The FIA should be nothing more than an independent regulatory body, not the overseer of F1 and dictator of its well-being. If the FIA cannot be other than an inflator of Max Mosley's ego, it should not exist. Perhaps a new sanctioning body is in order.
Guy Kokes, Tucson, USA
The USGP was quite a farce, wasn't it? No-one can deny that, and it has serously put into doubt the future of F1 racing in America. Everybody is wanting to play the blame game, and are they wrong? Someone has to be held accountable for what happened at Indy on Sunday. I am a Schuey fan, but not so much of a Ferrari fan. Minardi is my favourite team and has been since the mid-nineties. I have been watching F1 since 1991. I must say that is not the way I wanted to see Michael Schumacher win, and not the way I wanted to see Minardi score championship points. Ultimately I blame two parties for the recent unfortunate events. Firstly, a tyre manufacturer has a responsibilty to provide a safe racing tyre, whether it is competitive or not, to its teams, and the FIA sent out a letter to both Michelin and Bridgestone earlier this month reminding them of that fact. Undeniably, one tyre manufacturer made a huge error in calculating the demands of this track, and the other didn't. There would have been no problem if the correct tyres were brought to the race. I don't think anyone can argue that point.
Secondly, I hold the FIA responsible. But not for failing to find a compromise in this situation. They offered three alternatives, and all were rejected by the teams and the tyre company in question. Not only were there alternatives, but these alternatives could have been enforced by the FIA - and these were within the current rules that each team and supplier should adhere to. The alternatives proposed from the other side seemed destined to gain advantage from their misfortune, while destroying any advantage that teams with safe tyres did in fact have. The reason I find the FIA responsible is because of the rules they have drawn up for this year in Formula 1. Its a bit of a silly rule to say the least. Has it provided closer racing? Well, pretty similar to last year. Has it changed the balance of power in terms of competitiveness in the pitlane? Well, yes it has. Has it meant that tyres more than ever dictate the difference between winning and losing? Hell, yes. There have been way too many incidents involving tyres this year, making it unsafe for drivers, yet this rule was designed to bring safety to the sport. Now we have two companies pushing each other so hard to gain an advantage that safety was forgotten somewhere back in Melbourne. The Nurburgring race was a good illustration of this, and I am sure no one forgets the Renaults and their problems at Monaco. It is fair to say that I do not like the new rules applied this year and nor do I like the rules proposed for 2008. But if that is what fans get stuck with seeing, teams should adhere to these. Even if it means they give up competitiveness. I am happy with the teams in F1 at the moment, and would always welcome more. I don't mind the FIA being in charge, but I do have a major problem with the man running the FIA. I don't know if his agenda is ego-driven, or what his problem is, but too much meddling with a good thing will always result in trouble. F1 is finding itself in trouble, and I hope for my sake, and the rest of the fans around the world, it can fix itself in the near future before it is damaged beyond repair. Max Mosley, you have done a few very good things for safety since you became FIA president, but in recent times you have taken a few small steps backwards. Please sir, move on, and let someone else take the reins, in the interest of the sport.
Rohan H, Sydney, Australia.
It's time for someone who can govern the sport with the best interest of the sport in mind. Max Mosley is not the man for the job. Turn the job over to Bill France.
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