JUNE 23, 2005
The fans respond, Part 3
We asked F1 fans for their opinions about what happened at Indianapolis. Here is what they think:
Short and sweet - it is time for Max to go!
Carl Forshage, Los Angeles, California
Michelin is at fault. The FIA has rules and the championship is 18 races not only the US Grand Prix. Michelin could have requested a new set of tires on Friday. They knew they had a serious problem on Friday. Michelin have tried to cover up their gross blunder of their tire selection, tire compond and tire construction by causing all the chaos at Indy. Michelin could have told their teams to reduce speed at "Turn 13" and/or replace the tires every 10 laps. Imagine if Bridgestone was in the same situation at Indy.. The teams would laugh at them and carry on with the race. Imagine if Ferrari could not get their qualifying and race tires up to temperature and asked for 10 warm up laps prior to their qualifying run. Imagine if Ferrari had to ask for a new chicane at Monza on Sunday morning because they are not competitive and want to slow the cars down. Imagine if Bridgestone ONLY brought one set of workable tire type to a race meet and they proved the wrong choice. Imagine if BF Goodrich brought a unworkable set of "Baja Terrain" tires for Mitsubishi Pajero for the Paris - Dakar. Michelin violated all the FIA rules and tried to turn the debate into a "hate the FIA" story. Michelin made a huge mistake on the weekend and they are going to pay for it. The FIA is not to blame but as always the fans get the wrong end of the stick. I feel so sorry for Tony George and the IMS. The Firestone Firehawks and Bridgestone F1 Protenzas are made in the same factory in Japan. They had data for the Indy 500. Everybody knew that they had resurfaced the track. Hats of for Jordan for not getting sucked into the mess that Minardi's Stoddard wanted him to do. Hats off to Bridgestone and Ferrari for giving it all during qualifying and the race and for being "Engineering Responsible" during the race, even holding back Schumacher in the pits to look at his tires. It is not always about wining. Bridgestone and Ferrari have a passion for racing. Always prepared and no whining. Forza Ferrari! Forza Bridgestone! One day I will have a Ferrari with Bridgestone tires.
Clive Engel, Houston, Texas
Max and his supporters need to go. In my opinion Michelin were undoubtedly responsible for a gigantic foul-up. Full-stop. But what could be done about it, what should the players involved have done to dig themselves out? I think the FIA, and Ferrari for that matter, should have seen it as an oppotunity to be the heroes. They should have found a way to make a decent show of a race, whether the Michelin runners should have been penalised by running at a reduced speed through Turn 12/13, or racing for no points/reduced points, put in a chicane - whatever - those details could have (or at least should have) been worked out. Clearly The Michelin runners were not in a bargaining position. I know it wasn't fair to the Bridgestone runners - namely Ferrari - but they should have sucked it up and been good sports. It's called "sacrificing the one for the good of the many". Think of the PR mileage they could've gotten out of it! Same for the FIA. The race was as good as written off when Michelin announced that the tyres weren't safe. It was then up to the FIA and FOM to make something happen for the sake of the fans - World Championship aside - that was already a wash-out by Saturday. Maybe some of the suggestions put forth weren't the best ie the chicane, but it was up to every single guy there (team principals, Max, Bernie, Charlie Whiting, Pierre Dupasquier and Tony George to say "Hey, the people in the stands and the people sitting in front of their TVs are paying our salaries ultimately and we owe it to them to give them something decent to watch". As a fan I'm not interested in any one of them saying "What's in it for me?"
Well, speaking as a fan, "What was in it for me on Sunday afternoon?"
At the end of the day I think the solution is for Max to go. He seems to think it's his show. Too often he seems to dig his heels in on an issue just for the sake of it, flexing his muscles. What's he going to be left with if he keeps this up?
Someone's got to break up the fighting in the sandbox. Who will it be? I don't know but it's got to be someone on the outside. Everyone on the inside is too emotional and is too busy protecting their own interests. Who's looking after the fans' interests? I would've thought that Bernie would be the one who's most motivated to look after us. It's our dollars and pounds and euros he's after.
While writing this I'm asking myself why do I watch? It's the sounds, the excitement, the few driver characters we have left and the glimmer of hope that remains that since it can't really get much worse that change must be right around the corner and I want to be watching when it happens. I love the racing - I don't miss a single race - even if it means getting up in the middle of the night to catch it live. This situation we're in now has finally got even me shaking my head in disgust.
It is time to put the fans and the quality of the sport first. Without fans there is no sport!
Denise Wharton, Toronto, Canada
A clear lack of either resolve or commitment to producing a proper race for the spectators was spectacularly demonstrated. In the same way that Michelin should have simulated the behaviour of their tyres, the FIA/FOM should have simulated most race crisis in advance of a season, a risk assessment of a kind if you like, and this clearly has not happened. It was a dreadful mistake by Michelin but mistakes happen and it is how they are managed that determines the extent of the damage. In every single circumstance where there is a solution that meets the needs of the spectators and the spectacle then it should be used, irrespective of the political fallout. Without serving the needs of the spectators this sport is dead. Why should I feel the need to state something so obvious? The lack of risk management and inability to impose a proper racing solution sadly demonstrates that the higher management of this sport does not always behave in the professional manner of which it demands from its participants. And let's be fair, the participants are not angels. The FIA 'speed limit' could not work in a competitive environment and would inevitably have led to an even larger farce as so many things could have gone wrong with this. There was only one solution. Build the chicane. Make everyone race. Make the race reward structure such that if you were on Bridgestones then even with a DNF you would receive a reward. The reward part could have been negotiated after the event and I can think of many solutions attractive to the Bridgestone runners. Did anyone at Ferrari really enjoy or need the victory that badly? It was utter misery all round. Mosley, Ecclesone, Dennis, Stoddart, Williams, Todt and the rest have all been good managers who have done great things for F1. So before we all get the daggers out we must think carefully about succession. These people have made mistakes, as we all do, the difference here is the degree and so something must change, and succession must be put on to the agenda. As a fan, and someone partially dependant on this sport, then at this present moment, what I would like the most is the opportunity to address these people to remind them about why we do this.
Phil Kightley, UK
What a shameful and embarrassing display by those who care more about politics and money than sport. All of those who prevented the US GP from going ahead and vetoed The Show for the fans should be gone from F1. This means Mosley, the Ferrari team and to a lesser extent, the Jordan Team. With no Jordans there would have been no Minardis and only two Ferraris on the grid. This would have been entirely appropriate and exposed that team's lack of sportsmanship. Ferrari and Max Mosley should both be excluded from any future participation in the sport for a start. Ferrari for its selfishness on a regular basis and Mosley for intransigence, arrogance and incorrect priorities. It is Mosley's job to see that the race goes ahead - not to prevent it from going ahead. It is very necessary that he loses a vote of confidence as soon as possible, unless he falls on his sword immediately. This could easily be done by the time-honoured method of faxing.
David Mingay, Sydney, Australia
In the past, I have sometimes pulled my hair (whatever is left) and gnashed my teeth (more teeth left than hair) reading your articles, but this time I say "Bravo". I love F1 racing. Let's clean up this mess as soon as possible.
Chris de Saint-Rome, Montreal, Canada
In my opinion rules are to be accomplished, from that simple point of view, what the FIA did was correct. The problem is the making of those rules. Tyres are the contact point between the bolides and the Earth, no grip at 300 Km/h on a curve means a ticket to home, the hospital or the morgue. It was clear to me (a political scientist, not an engineer or car manufacturer or pilot) from the beginning of the season that the rule banning the change of tyres during a race would be much more effective increasing problems of safety than reducing speed, if this was the intention. Wasn't this clear to the 10 teams? Did they have the chance of questioning the rule? Is Michelin unable to provide a suitable product for F1 racing? It seems that that was the case this weekend. But what about Button and other people hitting the walls in Montreal, were they really just human errors? And Kimi Raikkonen "square" tyre that made him lose 10 points? I don't really know the answer, I don't have enough information to be able to judge if Max Mosley and/or the whole FIA people that make the rules are the devil or really good sports. What I do know is that I didn't need to have any special education in physics and mechanics and engineering to anticipate this kind of problems with the tyres' rule. Formula 1 car racing is 1 because it pushes to the limits and the picture of this limit is "contact between car and ground", if there is contact there is car if not, there is plane or bullet or something else. As a TV follower of qualifying and race of every F1 event, every season, no matter if day or night for me, Indianapolis was the most sad and ridiculous I have seen. Outsiders often tell me: "Hey, how can you stand watching this cars going from here to there 70 times for 2 hours? This is stupid!" I think this weekend they were right. Me and millions of others like me have been put in a position of idiots. I think the responsibilities are shared by Michelin, the FIA and maybe others, but surely the solution is urgent; me and those other millions won't be there for another farce like the one last Sunday.
German Rozo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
If you ask me, this problem goes all the way back 10 years, in the aftermath of Ayrton Senna's death. Ever since then, the FIA has come up with more pathetic rulings than good rulings. Though safety is important in F1, the FIA has continually overstepped their bounds by trying to force their will into the F1 teams by consistently forcing new absurd rulings and regulations with the excuse that it's on the grounds of safety and/or the need to cut costs. Thanks to this, Formula 1 has been hampered on both the technological aspect as well as the racing aspect. Formula 1 has always been about racing competition and technology competition, and Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone don't care for either, and if they did back in the FISA v FOCA days, they don't anymore. Everyone knows that it's the teams that put on the show and make it happen, but in the political grounds of the very sport they are part of, they have pretty much no say at all, much less are powerless to do anything of sort. If the teams supposedly had the power, why is it that they haven't showed a more stronger stance when it came to rulings like the grooved tires, reduced mechanical grip, and now the one-tire rule? Further to the point, why did Williams and McLaren suddenly backed off from their arbitration plan if they had a solid case against the FIA?
This doesn't let the FIA off the hook. Max Mosley is the main cause for this mess and mostly the one to blame for the US GP fiasco. You can blame the Michelin people for screwing up and bringing a compound that didn't work, but Bridgestone has also suffered throughout the entire season with their compounds as well, and who do we have to blame for this? The FIA's "one tire per race rule." Thanks to this rule, any development from both Michelin and Bridgestone was essentially truncated since there was no way they could develop a compound which would last the entire race without it making it more expensive for the teams to afford it, not to mention that it's a stupid rule in the first place since the tires were designed for a specific reason and that is to be used for a certain amount of time and then change them during pit stops. The one tire rule was a disaster waiting to happen, and it hit Bridgestone first with Michael Schumacher in Barcelona with his two tire failures. It also hit the Renault people in Monaco, and it ultimately hit Kimi Raikkonen during the European GP. It was only a matter of time before the whole thing blew up and it did in the US GP during practice. Sure, Michelin's compound was too aggressive and they paid the price, and Bridgestone's compound wasn't and they paid the price by being mowed down by Michelin during the entire season. But this whole scenario would not have ever happened had the one-tire rule been rejected by the teams and the tire manufacturers. The one tire rule is the main cause of this whole debacle, and I lay most of not all of the responsibility in the FIA and Max Mosley because they're the ones that came up with this rule, and thanks to the inflexibility and unwillingness to bring to a solution and not taking Michelin seriously and putting their agendas in front of the fans, they ended up screwing the already weak fan base in the United States. The truth is that Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone must go. Despite the fact that the fans in the end are going to be the real losers thanks to this political battle in F1 between the teams and the FIA, a revolution within the sport is absolutely necessary. And I encourage the teams and the manufacturers to stand up and fight for their right to exist in F1. I urge them to stand up against Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone and force them to resign and stand down. The only way that the FIA and F1 will manage to move on is that Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone resign
The sport has a governing body, which is supposed to govern a sport. There is "Formula One Management" - supposedly managing the commercial interests of Formula One. There is also a Race Director, who is supposed to direct a race. What will they say they were doing this weekend if anyone asks?
Sam Laird, Edinburgh
It is truly unfortunate that the Michelin tired teams felt unable to safely compete. This, shows the need for more, rather than fewer, tire suppliers be involved in the sport. If there'd been four tire suppliers, rather than just two, only a couple of teams would have felt unable to compete and their withdrawal, though unfortunate, wouldn't have impacted the race significantly. Additionally, the tire suppliers were warned by the FIA after both Monaco and European Grand Prix to have tires durable enough to safely complete full race distances. Michelin did bring tires that were, by all accounts, unable to compete. That the teams thought that the rules and race should be changed to allow these unsuitable tires to be used is contrary to the sport. The Michelin shod teams could have raced, though they would have had to control their speed through turn 13 (or go through the pit lane). This would have resulted in a strange GP as well, but one with more cars on track. Clearly, if this problem had only affected one team, no one would have said anything except, that the team should have done a better job. Additionally, if it were appropriate to change the race to allow seven teams running on inferior equipment to be competitive, would it still be appropriate to change the race if five teams were in the situation? What about three teams? Why not change the rules to insure that any car in the series could win (Just like they do currently in NASCAR)? Though unpopular, what the FIA did was both fair and appropriate. Lastly, what the Michelin teams did by going out for the formation lap with no intention of racing was insincere, unprofessional, and incendiary to the crowd. As for the permanent damage to the sport, I don't think so. People in general, and Americans in particular, don't have very long memories as long as the next show is a good one.
Terry A. Teeters, Honolulu, Hawaii
Bring back the rules that were used between 1994 and 2002!
Sasa Tekovic, Croatia
Mosley is really messing up F1. This sport is supposed to be the ultimate racing in the world. With the new regulations proposed we are looking at an open wheel NASCAR series that is no longer the ultimate racing. I think the FIA are trying to "dumb down" F1 so they can regain the control they are slowly losing. Bernie is caught in the middle and of course does not want to lose his billions so I see him siding with Mosley to keep his portion of control on F1. Mosley needs to go. He has allowed his power to go to his head and now wants to ruin all that is F1. Just look at the poll the FIA took of fans. Did you see any information about that poll before the new regulations were released? No. The ultimate cars will disappear, the circus will disappear and we will have a boring race of identical cars running around the track. Those that will purchase a complete car of course will be unable to compete so there goes that idea. By cutting costs as drastically as proposed we will not see any creativity or new designs due to the limited funds to properly perform R&D. Indy and Champ cars will outperform what they are proposing. To sum it up Mosley needs to go and fast. I agree costs should be curbed but too many people that know what they are talking about have shown other ways to cut the costs other than completely changing the sport.
The problem as I see it is that the people who run the sport act like contentious lawyers instead of remembering that ultimately, they are in the business of entertainment. Their job is to put on a show. Without the show, they have no business. Sunday in Indianapolis the show did not go on, because they have lost sight of what their real job is. There turn is up, next please...
Steve Ewing, Laguna Beach, CA
It's a fact, all empires eventually fail. Ecclestone did an extraordinary job taking a ramshackled F1 series and making it a professional, world wide sport. The problem is he sees it as his empire - he does what he wants with it - placing Max Mosley in the FIA and keeping Ferrari 'on side' by paying them more than anyone else to appear. However, he's taken on more than he can chew, the motor manufacturers are in open revolt, and Ferrari have become obstructive and just plain obnoxious. The divide and rule policy he's devised with Mosley is falling apart at the seams - he couldn't get the cars to race on Sunday and Mosley will no doubt punish them which could really see the whole thing unravelling. The answer. Ecclestone should resign through ill health, Mosley would gently step down and somebody with real charisma should take over, But don't ask me who that is!
Richard Williams, London, England
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