JUNE 23, 2005
The fans respond, Part 6
We asked F1 fans for their opinions about what happened at Indianapolis. Here is what they think:
As a Formula 1 fan in the US, I have watched in dismay what happened in Indianapolis, and I also have been reading your coverage and commentary. It seems to me that you are trying too hard to let Michelin of the hook. This Michelin tire issue is not new. It has been in the making since the start of the year. We kept hearing how fast the Michelins were, but we also kept hearing about their blistering problems, etc. To me, Michelin seems to have been so desperate for wins this year, they decided to remove the safety net. What puzzled me is how they did not do anything about, even though a month earlier, when the commentary was about the safety of the 1 tire rule, the argument was that the USGP put even more pressure on tires. In light of this, Michelin managed still to go it without a safety margin. In my opinion, Michelin should be kicked out of F1 right away, and a Bridgestone supply forced on everybody unilateraly (if possible, provided that Bridgestone can make the required numbers and sizes). Another idea would be to acquire and emergency set of safe tires (of course they will not be fast) that will always be there in case anybody tries anything similar.
Charles Farah, USA
It is time for the teams to move on. Every race seems to have some farcical aspect, the rules are asinine and the US GP only showed that Bernie, Max, Whiting and Todt are off in some Never-Never land of their own. Leave them there and give us back a series that isn't such a joke.
I think that you are quite biased when the battle for F1, between Max Mosley and the GPWC is involved. From your articles it seems that you blame Max Mosley for everything and GPWC for nothing and this is not right. Max, I admit, is far from perfect. His exotic rules are not always good and he looks quite rude with other teams sometimes. Nevertheless, he is the FIA president and he is the one, who must have the final word about F1 rules etc. The latest US Grand Prix was really a maimed race, but the responsibility of this is of Michelin tyres and their problem, which was used by the GPWC team to bully FIA and Max Mosley, to demonstrate that when they want something, they'll get it. The suggestion about the chicane was very arrogant and contradicted the rules, the boycott was a demonstration that the GPWC teams don't care about the fans. If they had raced and driven slower on Turn 13, no problems would have occured except one little fact. Ferrari would have won the race. This is what GPWC teams are really against. Destroyed by Ferrari in the last half decade, they are trying to finish them off track. Their moaning resulted in the 2005 regulations, they created this gentleman's agreement - there is nothing gentle about it, they tried to tie Ferrari's hands and now, it resulted with the US Grand Prix. Well, Ferrari won it anyway and hollow or not, this is a 1-2 victory. If Michelin teams are punished they should accept the punishment and try to beat Ferrari on track. They were doing it quite well since the beginning of the season, due to their superior Michelin tyres. Now they lost because of them, but they lost not only points, but their dignity, too. Boo for Michelin, GPWC and McLaren.
Alexander Draganov, Sofia, Bulgaria
This week, I've been reading all sorts of reports and comments about the US GP. Some from knowledgeable sources, many from the other end of the spectrum. What amazes me, throughout all this week's debate, is the belief that Michelin are somehow to blame for the outcome of the US GP. Since when did corporate and civil responsibility warrant such an irrational response? Isn't that what we think we don't get from corporations? Have we forgotten Bridgestone's own Firestone case in the United States? While admittedly in the public world, and not under the controlled conditions of a race circuit, we can see clearly the result of faulty products and lack of disclosure by corporations. We don't need to see it on a race circuit to understand the importance of the decision Michelin took. No, the buck stops at the top. The FIA remain the only people who could have pleased all parties involved. They could have accepted one or more of the teams' suggestions. They could have exercised force majeure. They could have allowed special dispensation to cope with a circumstance the rules were not written to address. But, no. They chose to prove their power by standing firm. One cannot negotiate with a dictator. And they talk now of charging Michelin with bringing the sport into disrepute, and summoning the teams to explain their actions? Diversionary tactics. It is the FIA who have brought the sport into disrepute, but who is there to question them? They must point the spotlight back on themselves, take responsibility for not competently governing the sport, sack Mosley and Whiting, et al, (out of principle, if nothing else) and hope they can keep F1 alive. Political wrangling can be the only explanation. At the expense of all parties.
Jeremy Hoyle, Australia
I have followed F1 for over 30 years. F1 has seen dark times and now the light seems to be extremely dim. There are many parallels that can be drawn between the feud of CART and Tony George and F1 teams and Mosley. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The FIA needs to be dismantled. No cars, no race, its as simple as that. The governing body needs to be representative of all involved similar to how the NFL is setup and have a commissioner who is "unbiased" to resolve disputes. There needs to be a captain at the helm who is respected by all, owners, drivers, constructors and patrons alike. This needs to be non profit and above board in the public domain. If this were a government an impeachment would follow concluded by a public hanging for treason. But this is F1 and it will be debated, the fingers will point and nothing resolved until the issue is so mangled the it will make the "oil for food scandal" look like a girl scout fund raiser. F1 is about dollars pure and simple, its a business more directly an "entertainment industry". And that has been lost and the fan is paying for it now. This is so repugnant I doubt I will ever have the same enthusiasm ever again and it saddens me.
Mark Roth, USA
An unforgettable father's day. All the family joined to share the bread and salt on my fianc?e's dad's house. In the menu as main dish of the day - F1. A sport some in her family love. In particular a sport I love since I was a little kid. What a sour dish it turned out to be for everyone who was interested, namely boys and guys and one of her sisters. Without being malicious I think I understand the motivators of FIA. I think FIA ultimately wants to push for innovation and progress of the sport. It has been proven that with unlimited resources in the series of races, cars can go to incredible speeds. But the real goal of the sport besides entertain the crowds should be to push the engineering advances that we can enjoy in production vehicles in the future. Unlimited tires, engines, fuel, etc. is just not challenging enough to force the teams, drivers, industry as a whole to do extraordinary efforts to achieve the same with less. It has been proven that the industry overcomes the limitations with innovation, ingenuity and talent. Key factors that push the sport into the tomorrow.
My fiancee, who couldn't care less about F1 other than to understand why we were so disappointed, asked me "What happened honey?" It was really hard to explain in simple terms something I was still trying to comprehend. I arrived to an analogy that reflects my opinion in the issue. When you were kids and were playing a game, any game you had certain rules. If some kid didn't want to play by the rules or broke them there would be some sort of punishment or even disqualification. What happened here is that a bunch of kids didn't want to play by the rules and threw a fit and decided not to play making the game boring for the other kids that played by the rules. In soccer terms in an imaginary world adapted. Team A and B are going to play. Team A has good shoes that work perfect in the field team B doesn't. Would FIFA change the grass so that team B can perform better? I suppose it would be up to team B to adapt or accept their handicap. It would not be up to FIFA or team A to make up for the difference, would it? It wouldn't be fair for team A. Then after a long conversation about the rules and how the sponsors work, we went into deeper detail. After she understood everything she said: "Why didn't Michelin had better tires ready for that race? If that was me I would have used Bridgestone instead. I would use Bridgestone there after. That is not fair, now I see why you are so disappointed. They should penalize the teams that didn't want to play by the rules and they should return the people and sponsors their money. They should return the money they spent on plane tickets, gas, parking, food and even tanning lotion. And they should arrest and put in jail the people that threw stuff to the other cars, even I understand that is dangerous, rude and wrong. I don't think I will ever buy Michelin tires again! I will look for Bridgestone tires instead". And there you go. How did you like that Michelin? You just lost a customer, not me, I have been using Bridgestone since 1990.
Rogelio Hernandez, Dallas, Texas, USA
I think the way Formula 1 is governed has proved itself not to work. The only sensible way I can think of to fix it, is to change how rules can be modified and to make everything that goes on public. Both sides of every argument should be published so that we know whats going on. The FIA and each team should have one vote each on the council, with the safety committee, track promoters and drivers having two votes respectively. Three quarter of the votes should count as a majority to get rules passed so 1 team cannot block rule changes that are supported by all the rest. Each of the teams should get 6% each of the annual takings of F1. FOM should not be able to change rules or block rule changes. They should only be there as promoters of the sport and representatives of the the sport. Also FOM should take no more than 10% of the annual income. I know this won't fix all of F1's problems, but it would be a big step in the right direction.
Chris Moore, Australia
What happened at Indy just highlighted how silly things have got in Formula 1. I feel that it might be time for new blood at the top of the FIA. Max Mosley has achieved some great things in his tenure, but if this carries on, he will only be remembered for the potential farce 2005 could now become, when it looked like being a classic year. Stand down Max, or there may not be an F1 left for you to govern.
Darron Rowe, UK
For some time now, I have been worrying over the state and direction of Formula 1, and the events of Sunday only help to confirm my fears. Although I was not one of the unfortunate people who wasted their hard earned money to see an expensive joke, I did make the effort to stay up very late - the Australian broadcast time being 03:30am on Monday morning - and subsequently took that Monday off work. This effort was made as I have not missed a single F1 broadcast in over 12 years, but I no longer know if I shall make this effort again. I lay the blame of this squarely at the feet of Bernie and Max, who prior to this monumental stuff up happened to release some proposed rule changes for the future of F1. I'm sorry, but I'm not just some dumb petrolhead who merely wants a grand spectacle. I appreciate the finer points of F1 technology and engineering, and if they want to remove that, then I might as well watch the V8 supercars instead, which do provide very exciting racing, but in a very standardised format. I understand the need for a more equitable system, one that will allow smaller teams to compete and thrive, and there are solutions to these problems, but again Bernie and Max stand in the way. Like entrenched Maoists, these former rebel leaders now seek to dismiss any questioning of their wisdom and power by labelling all dissenter as counter-revolutionary. The wheel keeps turning. One last idea I would like to raise is that the FIA could easily impose testing limits such as are accepted by everyone bar Ferrari, yet they choose to please 10% and ignore 90%. However the FIA could allow smaller teams, namely Minardi and Jordan, who do not use all their allocated test days, to on-sell test time they have in the bank to bigger teams wishing to do more testing. This would allow those who wish to test beyond the agreed limits to do so at a premium cost, while providing additional finance to the smaller teams to develop their cars.
CM Renaud, Australia
Having been a grand prix fan for more than 40 years. I feel the deterioration of the sport is purely based on egos and petty politics. It is a damned shame that a big successful factory such as Ferrari, can have such control. Shame on Jean Todt, and his whole team for missing an opportunity to show the world the true sporting nature of motor racing. Shame on Max Mosley for his egotistical stand on this and other issues. It is time he stepped down, he is detrimental to the sport. And Bernie could have made himself 10 feet tall by exerting the pressure on his friends in red. It is time to wake up and smell the roses. Improve the product, let it evolve both technically and mechanically. Gentlemen put your egos in the drawer and start doing what is good for the sport.
Marvin Libman, Montreal Canada
It is unfair for you to blame Ferrari for the US Grand Prix fiasco. Ferrari brought the right equipment to the race. It was the other teams and Michelin who came unprepared for the race. All teams have 2 days of practice, 2 full days to find and correct any problem, and they did nothing. Rules and regulations are set for a reason, just like laws in our society, one has to abide by the laws to live in a society. In order to participate in F1, teams have to follow rules and regulation too, it's that simple. I really hope the seven teams who boycotted the race will be fined and some form of penalties applied to them.
Michelin should me the one to blame.
After the events of today, it is clear why people refer to the Formula 1 "Circus". The only problem is that the clowns are in charge. The arrogance of the real powers in Formula 1 (the FIA and their toadies at Ferrari) is monumental. Arrogance of this magnitude in governments usually leads to revolution. One can only hope that heads will roll in Formula 1 as well.
Please excuse my ignorance: What is it that Mosley has done wrong? F1 before Bernie got his hands on it was a particularly small sporting category. Many of the past and present team bosses have all benefited greatly from the direction and commercialization of the sport that has taken place under the control of Bernie. Now it seems the teams are not at all satisfied with the current distribution of monies in the sport. Hardly fair when you think Bernie has created the wealth that these individuals have been enjoying for a number of decades now. Not only team bosses but drivers and team members also have all gained. So what would happen if the teams got a greater share of the profits? The profits would still be distributed according to performance of the teams therefore we would still have this unequal distribution of monies where the minnows of F1 will always be the minnows. All the teams would then do is spend more on their annual budgets, how does this aid them? However there could also be another alternative motive by the teams and their owners, that being to increase the share of the profits that F1 generates and hence having their own stock increase exponentially. Maybe they are getting ready for a sale to some hungry manufacturers. At a time when BMW, Honda and Mercedes are all increasing their involvement in F1 during this increasingly turbulent time it makes sense that the teams are trying to increase their share and hence net worth. So look at the motives, no one individual does anything without a reason; to place the blame on Mosley for upholding rules and regulations is not correct. At the moment it suits a number of the teams to join forces. Up until nine months ago Paul Stoddart and Ron Dennis did not get along one iota and now seemingly enough they are the best of mates: motives; Stoddart doesn't realize that he is just the messenger, and you know what happens to them.
As for the farce of the US GP I don't understand how Mosley, the FIA or Ferrari are to blame. All year teams have not been able to drive their car at full pace to aid the durability of their tires. How was the US any different? Michelin teams knew that they had a problem with their tires; they also knew how to get around the problem but did not want to sacrifice their performance. As we all know tire design is a trade off between durability (safety) and performance. Michelin have clearly been reaping the rewards for taking the risk to perform at a higher level and all year this has paid off for them. In the US they made a huge error of judgment; does this mean all the non Michelin teams should suffer for their mistake.
Has Ferrari asked for 4 or 5 warm up laps before their qualifying run to get some heat in their tires so they can be competitive with Michelin? Here is a team that has suffered most from these regulatory changes and they have not complained or asked for any charity; and then here Michelin is enjoying complete domination and the one weekend they have a problem they wish for changes to the track to aid their performance further still. Does this organization have any pride? So in my opinion it is not Mosley who should move on, any other president of the FIA would be upholding the rules and introducing new ones that they believe are to the benefit of the sport. Sometimes they get it wrong no doubt but at least it is a proactive organization. I believe if the teams leave and create their GPWC they will still run it in the same fashion and things will work well for a small time; but then what happens when there is a difference of opinion? Who is right? Seeing as the teams themselves answer only to themselves. No group of individuals can regulate themselves adequately, but then again it's not about this is it. Just follow the money and the truth will be found. All the Michelin teams have brought the sport into disrepute, they had the ability to race albeit slowly or change tires every 10 laps, they had options but they chose to take a stand against the FIA and Stoddart chose to blame Ferrari again. The Michelin teams robbed us the supporters of F1 of a race; the manufacturers believe they deserve more income and the FIA along with Bernard are seen to be the problem. And let's not forget the fact that Ferrari through signing a deal with the FIA and Bernie are to blame for looking after their best commercial interests. Isn't this what the manufacturers are doing now with their threat to move away from F1? There is no doubt that we are going through a turbulent time in F1, but that's why we love our sport.
Domenico Gelonese, Australia
I've been a fan of F-1 ever since I found about Jim Clark in the early 1960s and saw a movie about Phil Hill's championship year. I still remember the shots from the cars going around the old circuit at Spa and other places. In my mind those were real men, and very brave ones at that. Since then I've been a corner worker, turned marshal and now a motorsports reporter. Even though I like oval track racing I still watch F1. Sunday's sad show was just terrible. In fact I shut my VCR off and reprogrammed it to watch a really good formula race; Champ Cars at Portland. Folks something has to be done. For one, get rid of that stupid tire rule. Seeing the wear during a race I fear that someone is going to get killed. Second F1 could have followed a NASCAR practice. When tires are an issue, they throw a competition yellow and everyone comes in to change their tires so the teams can check the wear. Of course this can't happen with a short sighted rule like F1 has regarding tires. As for the tire manufacturers, if you can't handle a six degree banked corner, then get out of the sport. You have no business designing racing tires. I can only hope that from this black day, some good will come. If it doesn't F1 may find itself in the dustbin of history. Especially now that a new organization might be forming. It would be a shame that over 50-years of history would come to an end in such a sad way. If there aren't changes made, Sunday may have been the first step into oblivion.
Dan McGee, USA
It's time the fans did to F1 what F1 did to the fans. If they can run a race with six cars instead of 20 and piss off their supporters, then it's time the supporters return the favor. Boycott all 2005 F1 races. This is a call to stay away in droves. Don't go to any remaining F1 races this year. Everyone, every event. Let's see how they like it when we don't show up. This is serious. Lets do it. Let's make a stand..
W Steele, New Zealand
I have been a GP supporter for many years now and am disgusted at the way in which Max Mosley is allowed to destroy the pinnacle of motorsport. Michelin made a huge mistake in the US GP by bringing the wrong tyres but the correct call and should be lauded for this in not letting the teams run. A big accident was probably averted in which drivers and or spectators could easily have been the victims. I take my hat off to Michelin for being bold enough in the face of their worst public demonstration to put safety first and for that I will buy Michelin tyres to show my support for their decision. Get Max out, put slick tyres back on, steel brakes (overtaking distances longer - more overtaking) and put the gear lever and clutch back in the thing. And Bernie, let us not forget that it was he that made the series a television spectacle so people in South Africa - like me and other parts of the globe get to watch all GPs live.
David Walker, Cape Town, South Africa
I was at the joke. As soon as I saw that only six cars were starting, I left my seat. I was and still am absolutely furious! The only way I will ever again attend an F1 event is if I am compensated for every cent I spent on this useless trip. Max, Ferrari, FOM, and FIA can do whatever they want and destroy the sport. As far as I'm concerned, they're all so beyond reality that they will never realize that with no customers, there is no business. F1 made a joke of myself and everyone else who was there. F1, goodbye and good riddance. Bring on the GPWC.
Alex Hristov, Atlanta, USA
The first thing I don't understand is all this talk of cost cutting. It is supposed to be Formula 1, not the local kart club. If Mercedes, BMW, Renault, Fiat et al see value in the races as they stand then good luck to them. If someone thinks it's just costing too much then I guess they could just run last year's car and see how it goes, if this means they come seventh and everyone is still OK with this then this is OK. If seventh is no good, then I guess either hire a driver like Ayrton Senna or spend a bit more. All the teams are currently doing this, and will continue to. Fiat have spent a lot of cash to make their sporting arm a winner, Renault have dug deep recently etc. Changing the rules isn't going to save anyone a dime, the teams with a will to win will expend their budget if not on gearboxes and ecu then on aero or active suspension or whatever. Even if you give everyone the same car they will spend big on pulling it to bits, making the best of what there is to change. This is the nature of competition. I'm pretty sure that the cost savings in having a motor last two meetings and tyres the entire race day are just about nothing, in fact all the R&D required to make the motors and tyres do the new job probably cost far more than the savings on the physical items. Making it impossible for seven teams to go for a race because of some tyre mess entirely created by this new set of rules defies understanding. I still wonder why Michelin didn't go in harder with the Barcelona tyre option on the Saturday and tell Max to stuff his homogolated tyre for the weekend routine.
Garth Davies, Australia
First of all, I want to say that I'm by no means an expert in this matter. Regardless of that, as a fan I would like to say, that instead of letting the teams pack away or letting Mosley rule the sport, why don't we try to have a second de-Balestre-ing performance. Just a suggestion.
At a bare minimum, Mosley has got to go. Say what you want about NASCAR (I'm a WRC, sports car and F1 fan), they understand that the show MUST go on. F1 drivers are amongst the best in the world. Tell me they could not have dealt with a chicane. If you do tell me that, how then would six drivers have safely dealt with 14 others going through that same turn at far slower speeds? What would have kept those 14 drivers at the slower, safer speeds? Their competitiveness would certainly not have. What the FIA did at Indianapolis was absolutely inexcusable. There was more than one quick fix available. The talk about rules was, and is, nothing more than a power play. Hiding behind them after the fact is acting the spoilt child. What is needed now is an adult response. A sincere apology and constructive change. Sadly, this will not happen with the current FIA (and FOM) management. Anyone who thinks he can force Ferrari or McLaren to reduce their budgets to $30m is grossly out of touch with reality. Change has got to start with the FIA and at the top. Failing that, the sooner the new series starts, the better.
Steve Breithaupt, USA
I feel desperately sorry for the people who parted with cash in the expectation of seeing an event, along with the millions of others who tuned in to watch the race live. The fact is that rules are rules and I don't see how the FIA can be blamed for what happened or, more to the point, what did not happen! It would have set a very dangerous precedent to look after the teams who elected not to race. The blame is firmly with Michelin. End of story
Paul Harmer, Oxted, Surrey
I have been a supporter of F1 for as long as I can remember. I have been to all of the US GP's up at Indy. I don't understand how "the pinnacle of motor racing" could let this happen. The rules are there. If you don't want to follow them, there will be repercussions. In this particular case, it had to have been too much speed, too much downforce, or too little air pressure. So the fix is to slow down, lesson the downforce, or add more air pressure. Will you be performing optimal lap times, no but you will be performing. Or you could always change the tires and take responsibility for your actions along with whatever penalty the FIA wants to dish out. Now you didn't win the race. You pissed of the richest audience in the world, and you will be given a severe penalty by the FIA anyway. Everyone around the world thinks that Americans are self serving and arrogant. Maybe that's because we have a little more backbone. Good luck paying all of those drivers contracts worth millions of dollars. Good luck paying for all of the R&D that goes into the "fastest thing on four wheels". You sure as hell ain't gettin' any more of my money!
Matt Haskamp, Cincinnati, Ohio
There is no question that Mosley is trying to destroy Formula 1 as we know it. The banks, who now own the commercial rights to F1, are not the major risk. In reality these guys will be easier to control because they know nothing about the sport so Mosley will be able to weave his magic and twist things in his usual style. Nevertheless there is no doubt that Mosley would prefer to be dealing with Mr Ecclestone. It seems clear that Mosley does not want manufacturers in the sport. He has said as much on numerous occassions. His argument is pretty strong. Manufacturers come and go on the whim of boards and the short-term opinions of share analysts, investment bankers and management consultants. We have seen this in F1 and British Touring Cars for many years. We have seen Ford, Mercedes, Honda, Renault and others come and go on numerous occassions. Mosley is also fairly keen to destroy the influence of some of the larger more indepedent teams. Williams and McLaren are far too powerful for his liking. The proposals released last week for 2008 would clearly have this effect (reducing barriers to entry into a business invariably destroys value for current participants). Before making the proposals public Mosley would have been aware of their long-term effect so the obvious conclusion can be made that one of his objectives is to destroy business value. All that said, Mosley's consistently snide and sarcastic remarks are simply unprofessional. He probably thinks they are clever, and at a certain level they are, but they damage him and more importantly damage how people view the FIA. He is also very clever at making an argument but he consistently inconsistent as Paul Stoddart showed earlier this year. No doubt he will hide behind his market research for some time to come as a justification for whatever. It is time he and Ecclestone moved on. They are a hindrance to good management. They have built a franchise and brand but a time comes to move on and allow others to carry the batton. People who establish businesses often find it very hard to walk away but these two gentlemen can consol themselves with the fact that they have made plenty of money. The same has to be said of others in the business. Many of the people have been around for three decades. They have done a good job but perhaps fresh ideas are needed? In some teams it would be fair to ask about succession planning because publicly very little seems to be happening. The eight GPWC teams need to be strong enough to walk away.
Ferrari will walk too when they realise that to stay with Mosley and Eccelstone, they will be competing in a two team championship. In fact Ferrari might walk away altogether because it is clear that Fiat can no longer afford F1 and that is why they were so quick to do a deal several months ago with Bernie.
Tony Negline, Sydney, Australia
The FIA needs to think about why people are questioning their behaviour. At present they seem oblivious to criticism. It may be a fatal blow for the sport if teams were to pull out of further races. When will we see people acting in the best interests of F1?
Johan van den Dorpe
I must say that what happened in the US on Sunday was disappointing to the extreme. I have been a fan of Formula 1 for 10 years now, waking up at ridiculous hours in Australia to watch every race. I agree with all of the commentary that suggests a solution should have been achieved, particularly when you think about the calibre of the individuals involved in F1. At the end of the day, those that were disappointed, like myself need to think about safety as being the number 1 priority. Obviously we are all disappointed but we should also think about how we would all feel if a driver was seriously injured, or killed due to the event being run by the Michelin teams despite our knowledge that there was a safety issue. Michelin did the right thing and so did the teams that withdrew from the event. The fact that Michelin were not prepared for the event is another issue. One that lies solely in the hand of Michelin and the impacts on their business will remind them of how involvement in a world wide sporting event needs to be managed impeccably. As fan, I will continue to support F1, I agree that there needs to be change. I am not sure how many chances F1 has to get it right. Perhaps a rival series might improve on the current situation? It could also be worse.
The principle ingredients in F1 are a recipe for a very nasty stink: Arrogance, lack of respect, complete absence of humility, vast egos, insane amounts of money, commercial secrecy. The US GP debacle is just the tip of the iceberg. I wonder what else we'll find out when this nasty little world implodes?
I have been a Formula 1 fan since the Jimmy Clark era. Although I do not agree with many of Max Mosley's recent decisions, I do agree with the position of the FIA regarding yesterday's Indy F1 race. If a team had shown up at a track that had a long straightaway (such as Canada) and due to weather conditions their brakes were inadequate to slow from the high top speeds, could they demand the straight be altered? After all, "safety" could be a concern in such an incident. Of course not! In my opinion, some of the teams prepared properly while others did not. Those prepared should not be penalized because their opponents did not prepare well. Other solutions were offered, but rejected because it did not provide an equal penalty to the properly prepared teams. Instead of Michelin and their teams admitting their mistake and suffering the consequences, they have chosen to blame everyone else and cheat the fans. In my view, those teams who did not participate should be penalized heavily. It provides a potential preview to how F1 will be if run by corporate giants where there is little concern for anything outside corporate image and profit. Screw the fans!
Jesse, Los Angeles, California, USA
I cannot believe that these people who are supposedly "running" F1 cannot make a simple decision to keep face in the sport they "love". The one set of tyres rule was a disaster waiting to happen. They talk about safety in F1 having the utmost priority, then who is the brainiac that decided one set of tyres can last the whole race? Every time they make a silly decision to supposedly cut costs in F1, they end up spending two to three times more in testing and development. If Michelin was able to bring in the correct tyres in prior to the race then a simple solution would have been to put all teams including Bridgestone with new tyres prior to the race. Or allow the Michelin teams to put their tyres on and start them from the rear of the grid. If we as the common people can see compromise for the good of the sport, why can't the people who head it up? Now in saying all this, Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi cannot and should not be held to blame for what happened. The sole reason this occurred is that Michelin got it all wrong. Get rid of the current regime and give the teams what they need to compete in the true spirit of the sport. Not the underhandedness that they need to stoop too in order to gain any advantage.
Theo Gourgoulis, Australia
I have followed F1 racing for 35 years. What I saw on Sunday made me sick. It is no longer a contest of auto racing but a show of politics. I will no longer follow the sport.
Here's who was left in the lurch at Indy: Many fathers who brought their family to Indianapolis to enjoy Father's Day. A large portion of these fans were probably on their first visit to an F1 event. With the memories that F1 provided on Sunday I'm sure you can forget about most of those folks returning or following F1 going forward. Corporate sponsors who brought in their best clients and employees for what is supposed to be one of the greatest spectacles on earth. They got a spectacle all right, and I'm sure event planners for these companies will not be scheduling F1 events again. As with the Father's Day crowd, there were a lot of F1 neophytes in this group who will wash their hands of the entire experience. Regular F1 fans who paid a lot of money to get stood up. Good luck on selling them $150 tickets and $30 hats in the future.
Jeff Ramsey, USA
I was both saddened and angry and what occurred yesterday at the US Grand Prix. I heard Peter Windsor comment on SpeedTV that he believed the problem was with Michelin because they did not provide an appropriate tire to their teams. He even suggested that the problem was because of the disproportionate number of teams on Michelin and that is what led to 70% of the teams retiring. While the teams could not race because Michelin did not have a safe tire, the fact that a majority of the teams left Bridgestone is not Michelin's fault. Rather, Bridgestone proved to be building tires exclusively for Ferrari and so ignoring the other teams that they left for Michelin. Yet now the assertion is being made that this exclusive relationship is a detriment to Ferrari because they don't get in as many testing miles and so their performance is suffering this season. Bridgestone and Ferrari created this situation and yet now they are complaining. On Sunday, there were nine teams ready and willing to accept a chicane. Unsurprisingly, Ferrari and the FIA did not agree to the chicane. This was not a simple performance problem (as Peter compared it to Bridgestone's wet-weather performance) but an issue of complete tire failure. I am certain that if Michelin had allowed the teams to race and another driver was injured, like Ralf last year, or even killed, then the press, the FIA and FOM would have been calling for Michelin's head. I respect Michelin's acceptance and apology for not developing an adequate tire but sticking to their standards and saying that the tire was not safe. I see this as yet another example of the FIA being unwilling to tell Ferrari that their views are isolationist and selfish and not for the good of the sport. It was great to see the teams standing up to Bernie, Max and Maranello and telling them that the safety of the drivers and the fans in the stands was more important. I'm certain the FIA sees this as a battle with the manufacturers and feels assured that one day the manufacturers will leave F1 and in the long term the FIA will still be there as the bastion of F1. Max has failed to see that if the manufacturers, advertisers and fans leave F1, he'll be in command of an empty ship in dry-dock. It's time for Max to step aside and heaven help us all if Jean Todt ever gets into the FIA.
Eric Leimkuhler, USA
After watching a specific rule in the International Sporting Code being used as a threat and misused in a number cases, I think it's about time someone took the initiative to turn the rule against it's misuser. The rule I'm talking about says:
151. Breach of rules
Any of the following offences in addition to any offences specifically referred to previously, shall be deemed to be a breach of these rules :
c) Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally.
Apparantly - and correct me if I'm wrong - the rule can actually be used against FIA-personnel or even an FIA president. That is the conclusion I reach when moving on to:
Any breach of this Code or the Appendices thereto, of the national rules or their appendices, or of any Supplementary Regulations committed by any organiser, official, competitor, driver, or other person or organisation may be penalised or fined.
Dennis Dithmar, Denmark
The FIA's decision to call the Michelin users to its headquarters is/was to be expected, but as the FIA's leaders are not respected little will be achieved. Michelin are saying they are not to blame for the Indianapolis fiasco [because they instructed the teams not to use the tyres] and that is absolutely correct, but that typical sideways move (to avoid the 'real' question) is a good example of what is wrong with F1. Michelin is to blame for this fiasco, not for the reason they plead innocence about, but because they failed to supply the teams with tyres that were fit for the job. They seem to be prepared to do anything to beat Bridgestone, and this current situation reminds me of the time that their tyres grew sideways as they wore down (Williams used them). This latest problem seems to highlight a certain attitude in that company. The FIA are also to blame because they would not allow a single control tyre which every team agreed upon last year. Now they include this in their first draft of the proposed 2008 rule changes. This sport has been allowed to be defiled by those in power, and now it is no more than a 'show' that is expected to go on at any cost, irrespective of the dangers involved. Mosley should have the decency to resign
Bruno Menilli, UK
I can't figure out who's to blame for Sunday's Lewis Carroll-like hijacking of me, my family and millions of other already-exasperated F1 fans into a surreal rat-hole of F1-Wonderland politics. The fact that I can't figure out who is to blame makes me think that maybe I should feel privileged. Maybe my enjoyment should simply come from being at the mercy of super-sized egos, like the masochistic admirers of those temperamental opera stars, arrogant artists and nodding rock stars who fail to show on performance day. But then, those mercurial entertainers are always the select few, who soon learn to behave or are drummed out of the business by the wise and profit-minded captains of their respective industries (and usually, one might add, with far fewer dollars at stake). In F1's case, all of the players are spoiled children. What happened was inexcusable. How could Michelin not bring safe tires? How could Ferrari and all the other teams not reach some compromise on points? How could the Bernie/Max monopoly not mandate a solution? Certainly they all easily have the intelligence to overcome their own egos. The only organization I don't blame is the raceway; Indy simply delivered the venue and the fans. Can Michelin claim Indy blocked them from collecting data on track conditions? Maybe Michelin was busy winning at Le Mans instead. In the end, I suspect the hubbub will have exactly zero impact on the attitudes of those who run the F1 circus. They will claim to be chagrined, and many may even mean it. But the power brokers who run the sport - you know who you are - are decades past feeling any shame for their behavior, as were most of their predecessors. In the end, I say to myself - and all the other jilted, rightfully appalled fans - grow up, get used to it, it's the pinnacle of motorsport. If you need more oxygen, climb down.
Paul Dippell, Plano, Texas
The stupidity of the actions of the FIA defies belief. Say what you will, the USA is the biggest market for virtually any product you can name, especially cars. Formula 1 and all the money sloshing around in it are solely provided by people paying to see the races, and by companies willing to pay a lot of money to have their name shown to the world. Michelin have accepted fault - they caused the inital problems and are going to get severely censured, which is fair enough.
However, from what I can gather, Michelin and the teams proposed that a chicane be built and the Michelin runners get no points and start from the back of the grid. Basically this means Ferarri would have won (as they did), and that Jordan and Minardi would have got the points they wanted (as they did). It would have also meant a race was run, and with nothing to lose but a point to prove I think the Michelin runners would be going all out. In its wisdom, the FIA prefer to stop any racing going ahead, annoy 120,000 people and wreck entry into the US for Formula 1 potentially for ever. Why?
Alistair Crawford, New Zealand
The answer to all this absurd situation is simple: F1 has lost its target. They forgot that the most important thing for F1 are US, the fans all over the world. The sponsors are there because we are watching. No charities! The only part in F1 who gives money away is us, the fans. I have loved this so-called sport since I listen to my first F1 race on the radio back in Brazil in 1970. Even in the FISA v FOCA War X I didn't get so shocked by such tremendous stupidity as I watch yesterday at the US GP. No chicane, no points. OK. Let's race. But compromise and respect the fans! The ones who buy T-Shirts, jackets, die-cast cars, DVDs, videos, books everything with F1 in it! To me, some questions came flying: Why could Jean Todt could not agree to race for no points. Were the last 5 years were not enough? How come the FIA can blame the Michelin teams for their decision to not put the drivers in danger? Can the FIA ever recover its legitimacy? When are we gonna have drivers with real opinions again? Michael Schumacher is not a racer at heart. He could force the issue of a no points race to respect the fans? Does he want another title so badly? In Brazil 2000, Sauber withdrawn for the race because of structural failures on the rear wing support? If they were the main supplier of rear wings support for the other teams and recommend actions to avoid an accident, should they be crucified by that? We the fans are also the ones to be blamed. For years, F1 has been treating us with contempt and arrogance, but we kept supporting them.
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