JUNE 24, 2005
The fans respond, Part 7
We asked F1 fans for their opinions about what happened at Indianapolis. Here is what they think:
I believe that when such respected and experienced men lose respect for each other there is no point of return any more. Sure one can always do it for the "good of the sport" as has been the case in the last few years, but I can understand in some ways how a person like Ron Dennis or Frank Williams would not wish to recover from these circumstances but instead take their business elsewhere. After all they have lived and breathed the sport for many years themselves, and eating humble pie again and again must start feeling like all their efforts in the past for the benefit of F1 is counting for nothing. Dragging respected and admired teams/companies/manufacturers through the mud like they are little schoolboys who need to be disciplined is petty and arrogant. Max Mosley is the man I blame. What you say is true, Max or the teams must go, and since I as the fan keep F1 running I would be much happier to see him go than half the teams I watch on TV - sometimes at 4am in the morning, like the US GP for instance. It goes without saying that I do not agree with what the FIA have generally done to a number of teams in the last few years: the Michelin Tyre fiasco at Imola, the BAR disqualification, the canceling of the meeting in December, now the US GP are just a few examples. When will the FIA and Bernie start to realize that the collective fans of the other teams well outnumber Jean Todt's supporters? I love F1 but I do find myself hoping that people like Ron Dennis and Paul Stoddart stick together and start their own series. There is one worse thing than losing I believe and that's unfairness. It created doubt in my mind over every result I see in F1. I don't know what the solution is to this mess but I know that the FIA need to become a 21st century organisation. Open management and equality for the teams is the key.
Erik Fazekas, Sydney, Australia
If there's anybody to blame about what happened in Indianapolis, It should be the FIA. Michelin offered solutions. The ever arrogant, all important FIA did not compromise. The teams are only concernd about driver safety. The FIA don't seemed concerned about us fans. I took a two week vacation away from LA and this was the highlight of those two weeks. I loved F1 since childhood and this is my first time to watch an actual F1 race. I looked forward to being there in Indianapolis since F1 returned to the US. The FIA took the old fashioned, last second dramatic qualifying. They seemed to have taken more than that. This is a perfect example of off the charts politics. I am disgusted! I'll never go to another F1 race. I'm even uninterested to follow the rest of the season. The damage has been done. R.I.P. F1. I'm just waiting for my refund.
John Maso, Los Angeles, California
It seems to me that in almost every dispute that has arisen in recent times in F1 that it is the FIA that is at the centre of the argument (regretfully, often with just one F1 team standing in the wings saying "It's not our fault, we are just going along with the rules"). And to most people the FIA is Max Mosley. The time is clearly long overdue when Mosley is moved on (I personally would prefer to see that that to see him move on of his own volition) and any renegade teams are brought in to line - one law for all of them, with none of them doing things like carrying out excessive testing. The introduction of some of the sort of technical changes proposed on your site within the last few days would bring us back to a situation where a mix of major manufacturers and talented independents could battle it out on a fairly level playing field, although I personally believe that we do need to be careful to ensure that F1 does not cease to be the pinnacle of excellence of motorsport.
Malcolm Frew, Melbourne, Australia
Most people will know the answer to a simple syllogism: If all men like ice cream, and Socrates is a man, then Socrates likes ice cream. Thus it is with your analysis, which is the most succinct I've heard or read. If you can't have F1 without teams, and the question is Max or teams, then Max is the one who should be out. Since there was a racing solution and Mosley vetoed it, he is indeed the problem. Bernie is fond of saying that 25% of something is better than 75% of nothing. Max is headed for the latter.
Michael A. Simons, Boston, Massachussetts, USA
My opinion is that all the parties should have organised something, like allowing all terams to change tyres during the race, as was done up until this year. I was disappointed in Michael Shumacher's comments post race about the Grand Prix. I understand his difficult position, but saying that the Michelin situation was not ferrari's problem was farcical. A race with only six cars is everyone's problem. Why for heavens sake did we see Bernie running along pitlane trying to negotiate with teams if it wasn't a problem. I would like to see Ferrari open their eyes and see the greater good rather that go into a defensive corner and hide behind the rules. I would rather see them think of commonsense and the common good of the sport and the interest of the fans
John Waldock. Australia
There is a principle in California traffic law that may well apply in this case. Hypothetically, if a car coming in the opposite direction turns left into your lane (illegally) and you have time to stop but do not, you are the responsible party even if the other person performed an illegal act. To wit, the last person who has a chance to prevent an accident and does not is held responsible. In the case of F1, who is the last person who could have reasonably prevented this debacle?
Dave Cunningham, USA
There is plenty of blame to go around in this case. Michelin dropped the ball, I don't think anybody denies that. From there, one can logically argue that the FIA was technically correct in not negating Bridgestone's advantage in this case. Even as an American fan (who now has to defend F1 from jibes made by colleagues raised on NASCAR), I cannot blame the Michelin teams for their decision. Williams is just now free of the Senna trial, after a decade of litigation; how much worse would it have been for any team if something bad had happened in the US, a very litigious country? And what if parts of the car flew into the grandstands? Apparently most teams agreed to a chicane and some of the concessions the Michelin teams are rumored to have offered in exchange for that chicane should have been sufficient to sway even Ferrari. Am I surprised by Ferrari's action? Not from a team that ignores testing limits. Not from a team manager who decided the outcome of Paris-Dakar on a coin toss. It is the role of a governing body to react to emergencies such as this, and their inflexibility here is suspect, to say the least. Particularly given the rationale that FIA gives for its proposed changes to the series (safety) or even the history of its rulings. Remember the post-Imola 1994, when tire barriers were erected at most circuits and tracks later permanently modified, to say nothing of car modifications over the last decade. Here we have a situation where most of the field, for reasons beyond their control, were asked to field unsafe cars at a circuit that is rarely forgiving of mistakes. The FIA could have allowed the cars to race, either with a chicane or perhaps allowing the Michelin teams to change tires every 10 laps (which would have been punishment enough in a 73 lap race) and sort out the penalties later. I think I can speak for every F1 fan with a triple-digit IQ when I say that we know F1 is about more than cars and drivers. We know politics and money are an important aspect of the sport just as we know that professional wrestling features a bit of acting (come to think of it, so does soccer.) That does not stop these sports from respecting their fans enough to give them something to cheer for. I admit I am biased: I root against Ferrari's current incarnation. Not because they (used to) win, but of the way in which they do. If the attitude of the FIA does not change, then I would wish that the non-Ferrari teams go ahead and break off. It would satisfy every fan: Ferrari fans, particularly the fair-weather ones, would see their team win every one of their races, and the rest of us would get an honest and eventful race every fortnight. I did fill out the FIA's survey a few weeks back but I have no hope that it will make a difference.
Clay Gollier, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
I think what happend at Indy was a very public expression of the power struggle going on in F1. The FIA need to answer questions about why they allowed this embarrasment to happen. All the events at Imola in 1994 raised questions about the fundamentaly dangerous nature of motor racing and if it were suitable entertainment for a modern audience. The events of Indy 2005 raise questions about the credibility of F1 as a whole and what exactly the FIA considers to be a good show. As an F1 fan, I am used to being forgotten but this was an insult.
I got out of bed at 03.30am Eastern Australia time to watch this farce. If supposedly intelligent men could not find a solution to the problem then it becomes obvious that at least one of them did not want a solution to be found. No prizes will be awarded for guessing who that person would be.
Gary Lumber, Australia
The reason the Michelin teams and the FIA were unable to get out of their impasse is the unreasonably strict rules imposed this season regarding tire use. The FIA's goal of preventing special qualifying tires, and of restricting excessive tire changing during a race, are reasonable enough. But when it becomes obvious that there is a mechanical fault with a team's tires during or after practice or qualifying, a complete tire change should be allowed, along with the penalty of being relegated to the back of the grid. This would certainly not reopen the door to qualifying tires, while allowing some flexibility for teams that have obvious tire problems. If it is acceptable to change a faulty engine, subject to a grid penalty, surely it is no less reasonable to do the same for faulty tires. If that rule were in place on Saturday, we would have had a race.
Ron Richardson, Vancouver, Canada
My father took me to see Fangio at Aintree in 1950, I was and still am hooked. I have so many memories of the 1960s when racing still was fun. If Michelin had gone ahead and there had been another accident, especially had debris gone into the crowd; can you imaging the fees the lawyers would have made. I think Michelin has to be complimented in facing up to their problem which they must have understood would result in criticism from many fronts - damned if they did, and damned if they didn't. Their decision took guts. How ironic that Michelin won Le Mans on the same day - after 24 Hours of racing - how can anyone claim they do not make safe tires? What I find most distressing about the current state of affairs perhaps is the loaded questions in the FIA survey. These questions were phrased to elicit answers in favor of the Ecclestone/Mosley clique giving no possibility to voice any real criticism. I hope the manufacturers realize how close the end is, because everyone I have talked with today has the same opinion: they will not go the 150 miles to Indy again unless things change. The teams now have to form a new group and try to get the politics out of racing, and racing back into F1. The ridiculous current formula does not produce good racing, just a boring procession in most events. I just hope they are smart enough to produce a formula using drivers skills with limited electronic intervention, because I can still clearly remember watching in awe as Juan Manuel slid sideways through corners on tires that could not have had more the 4in tread width. He, and others in toese days, had car control. It was art in motion.
W J Petrie, USA
As an avid fan of Formula 1 - both of the racing and the political intrigue behind it, and a lawyer, I understand the arguments from the different perspectives over the Indy fiasco. However, I can not draw myself away from one quote that I heard whilst watching the event. It was from a fan who said "I'd like to thank all the Michelin teams, thanks, I saved my pay for two months to be here, so thank you" (heavy sarcasm of course). This highlights to me that somebody who had a basic understanding of the situation, (he demonstrated this by his reference to Michelin being at some fault - although he laid sole blame upon them), was disgusted with the action taken. Michelin made a mistake in having the incorrect rubber. The teams suggested solutions - new tyres, chicane. The FIA suggested solutions - run at half pace through Turn 13, stop every 10 laps for tyre changes/safety checks. Michelin was not prepared to guarantee the safety of the tyres. The teams were not prepared to compromise their performances. The FIA were not prepared to compromise their decision-making autonomy and power. They were all looking out for their own interests in a power battle. However, the power battle was perceived differently by the different parties. Therefore they were all fighting for different things and not prepared to compromise because they each believed their unique power battle to be integral. And, in a way, all of their positions were integral power positions. However, I was left asking the question: "Did the guy who saved up his pay for two months, care about any of the three power positions?" And the answer was no. He went to Indy to see a race. He did not save up to watch a political struggle. Will he save up again next year? Regardless of who wins the latest power struggle, what will they win power over? Six cars circling an empty circuit?
Allan Walsh, Hobart, Tasmania
I can't wait for the big money to finally start putting out a great product. I find all the new rules and restrictions make auto racing more boring than ever. They just keep dumbing it down with such things as used engines in every other race, one set of tires per race, push to pass buttons,and restrictor plate engines. However the big money seems to be quite organized and does not appear at this point to have all these childish in fighting problems. CART and the IRL and NASCAR have all this behind the scenes drama going on instead of just focusing on racing for the sake of racing. I don't care about Bernie or Tony or Kevin. What I do care about is seeing a machine far different than I drive on the street being taken to its limits by professional people. Thus the A1GP series is my new next hope. Big money may screw this up too but I do like the concept. People motivated by national honor, instead of overpaid egotists pretending to make calculated risks.
Peter M. Hulme
You Brit's just don't get it huh? You ask: "Boil the arguments down still further and one is left with a question: what logic is there in damaging a sport just so one can control the wreck that is left behind? While a governing body should be allowed to govern - as the FIA insists - one has to ask at what point is that going too far?" We in North America have been asking this for 10 years in relation to the war between Tony George and the former CART - now Champ Car! It is always about control, pure and simple. We the fans have nothing to say in the matter. You in Europe are only now getting a taste of what happens when spoiled little rich men are able to do as they please. Welcome to our world, F1 fans, welcome to our open wheel racing nightmare. Funny how our problems started in Indy and now yours as well. We share your pain.
Doug Stark, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Firstly, Formula 1 should not be 'owned' by any one person/group. It should be put in the hands of a trust or body that will represent all involved. Primarily, this would be spectators, competitors, and media. Any revenue generated by the sport could be distributed back into the sport - cheaper tickets, improved facilities/tracks, income for competitors etc. The FIA would then in conjunction with this body, form suitable rules which were amenable to all parties involved, and enforce the rules and regulations accordingly. The FIA manages many other categories of motor sport successfully, so I don't think it is fair to say this is all their fault. Formula 1 in general (FOM, FIA, and the teams) has lost sight of why they are so wealthy in the first place. If people stop watching, they will be nothing. Does the sport itself attract audiences and worldwide attention? Or does the global appeal of worldwide audiences and marketing potential attract the sport? It is time to clean up the whole of Formula 1 before it is too late.
I can't believe the news today, I can't close my eyes and make it go away. Well, I think FIA got it all wrong with the new tyre rules, it was a total PR suicide for F1 and not only in the United States, if the teams and manufacturers were serious about the alternative championship now it's about time they get started to prepare it. I love F1, don't get me wrong, I've been watching it since 1991 but after the US GP 2005 what else can you do? Leave Mosley with his 2008 1975 cars and let Schu and a certain team in red win all the championships. I'd rather watch something else. Goodbye F1, I used to love you.
My impression is that the FIA President is more interested in playing power games than making the sport more accessible to the fans, the competitors and the sponsors. The FIA President's behaviour, in the form of publicly issued written statements where he ridicules competitor teams, is not the kind of behaviour one might expect from somebody who is head of an body that is supposed to garner respect from all associated with it. The statements regarding safety do not appear to be logical. eg, one set of tyres per race, yet the pressurised pumping of highly volatile fuels is perfectly acceptible.
Ross Gibson, Australia
We, fans and spectators are nuts. We are being ripped off to be allowed to look at the inside of a small, self-contained industry, which doesn't give a damn about the world's opinions. This F1 industry is massively loaded with dirty politics. They are all so good, remember, we limited revs here, we change brake-balance there ? So tell me, was it so difficult to program the motor management to run at 16000 rpm maximum in Turns 12 & 13? Give me break, they don't care. Safety? Don't make me laugh! What about safety at the Nurburgring, where they allowed Kimi to try and kill himself and Jenson Button? I've definitely lost interest. To hell with F1.
Rene M. Fennet, Amstelveen, The Netherlands
It seems that everyone is blaming the FIA, but the reason for all the trouble was Michelin. They provided a product to their teams that was not capable of doing what it was supposed to do. They were aware of the rules before hand, and knew the track. There is really no excuse for it. With that said, the FIA should have allowed Michelin to switch out the tires for Sunday, and made all of the teams race, but penalize the Michelin teams. This would have provided a show for the fans, and kept the points system fair for the teams that didn't have a tire issue. Granted, there would have been little incentive for the Michelin teams to race if they were not going to be in contention for the top six points, but the FIA should be able to force them to race for the benefit of the sport and the fans.
Sam Thompson, Virginia USA
Foolish ignorant arrogants! I often wondered what FIA meant but after Indy it came clear as a bell. These bureaucrats feel no joy or understanding of the sport nor do they understand or seem to care about the fans who pays the bills. On Sunday we saw the circus in its full stupid destructive splendor, the ringmaster (Bernie), the bears (on expensive quadracycles) and the clowns (guess who?). I thought the ringmaster was supposed to manage the clowns, I guess its not a real circus after all. They put this show on by themselves and for themselves, the only problem is they had no intention of paying for it themselves, the sporting public and media was conned into playing that role. The recent confrontational situation between the alleged governing body and the alleged Formula 1 racing teams is unsustainable and one of the parties has to blink. The tried and tested Machiavellian strategy of dividing the teams in order to conquer them is an old trick and Mosley seems to be playing this game according to the book. Problem is, Formula 1 racing itself will be destroyed for egos, control and politics. There is a solution, free and unbiased elections in the FIA.
One and only tyre supplier (without any special partnership with any F1 team) should really help to make this sport become what it use to be. Splitting the revenues in equal amounts between all the teams competing should also help. All those questions have really simple answers, the problem is that people who should be giving those answers are to involved in the problem, maybe it's time to have the answers coming from other side. I hope to see a better F1 in the near future and I don't mind to see all those expensive gadgets going out if that will allow us to stop politics and have better races. Having a tyre championship didn't help at all.
Miguel Ventura, Portugal
The time for a fundamental change in the 'sport' of Formula 1 is well overdue. It needs to change and change right now. Most of the manufacturers and teams have made it perfectly clear that they are not happy with the way the sport is run. It is time for them to stop bleating on about starting a rival series in 2008 and make it happen now. Book another circuit in France and every other country left on the calendar, run races with seven teams (maybe more), a control tyre and free TV coverage. Ferrari will be happy because they can run around all the official circuits by themselves. They will win the Constructors Championship and Michael Schumacher will be the official World Champion yet again. I know which race I would be watching, but I am just an ordinary fan. Ferrari and the FIA obviously don't care about anything as mundane as that so leave them to it. Anything is possible given the combined power of the businesses involved with F1 so please make it happen right now. 2008 will be way to late.
It just seems as though Michelin had no choice but to withdraw, if there had been one tire in the sport and it had been Michelin the FIA would have done something but instead it seems to be the FIA trying to drive out Michelin. Being an American it seems that F1 in the US and even in North America has gone sour. The problem is that how could the FIA think that Michelin would know better when the corner in question had been repaved and ground during the last year, Bridgestone already knew from their sister company Firestone that runs in the IRL Indy Car series that three weeks ago ran at Indy 500. I think running slow through the corner was an option that would have been more dangerous and would have not been a show. The same six cars would most likely finished in the same six spots with just two spots up for grabs to the Michelin runners. Mosley needs to go as he's an old guy with old world rules. When he says we need to make the sport safer he thinks taking 14 cars and putting them into a race with a tire that is unsafe is OK
Jeff Wilcox, Springville, Iowa, USA
For the FIA and Ferrari to have stuck to the rules for the sake of the rules was to completely miss the point. The rules in F1 are there to make everything more predictable and fair. Whether one considers F1 to be a sport or business, there is no sport or business if there is no race. Racing is what F1 is about and what happened at Indy was not a race. I understand the courts here in the US look at who had the last chance to avoid a traffic accident and not just at who made the first mistake. Clearly Michelin failed, but to block attempts to have the best race possible given the circumstances is disgraceful. The FIA and Ferrari are just as responsible as Michelin, perhaps more so since it's just sport. Sportsmanship refers to higher standards than the selfishness and win-at-all-costs of these people. For this reason I feel F1, as we know it, is flawed and not long for this world. Just as F1 is becoming more global, so too is Champ Car. Soon the Champ Car World Series may be just that.
Tim Butler, San Francisco, California, USA
I am embarrassed to be a Formula One fan after the fiasco in the USA. The fans have been let down, as have the sponsors and advertisers which fund the sport. Obviously Michelin must take their share of the blame as they took an tyre that simply would not work at the circuit. I believe this whole sorry incident could have been avoided by sensible thinking from either the FIA or by Ferrari. If the FIA had bitten the bullet and allowed the seven teams to compete with illegal tyres, pending disqualification or grid and stop-go penalties, everyone would have been happy. If the FIA (or Tony George) had built the chicane and penalised the seven teams everyone would have been happy. If Ferrari had stopped refusing every reasonable demand made by the seven teams, then the race could have gone ahead, with Ferrari netting the same amount of points. The seven Michelin teams made massive concessions to attempt to produce a show for the fans, every single concession what refused. A catastrophe like this must lead to blame, it shows the fans that the people at the top of the FIA cannot effectively do their jobs. Ferrari have too much power for one team, they have been given a handsome cash bonus for simply staying in F1, one that has never been offered to other teams. One team cannot be allowed to destroy the sport simply because of its heritage. Are you listening Max?
I think the answer is simple, Sunday's debacle had nothing to do with rules etc, it was a huge ego trip from Max Mosely and the sooner he steps down the better. A lot of people have blamed the Michelin teams which I think is unfair - they simply did what they had to do in the circumstances. The fact remains that the teams are there only to race when they can safely do so. The FIA is there to ensure that there is actually a series, and a race to watch, and that is where they failed on Sunday. Many alternatives were presented to them and some were more than workable, which would have ensured that the most important thing - that a fair, equitable and safe race be run for those fans who made the effort to go to the track, and those TV viewers (I myself got up at 04.00 to watch the race) who expected to see all teams competing. Behind the scenes politics should never have been allowed to control the decision, which is exactly what happened. A race with all teams should have been run no matter what rules needed to be broken or bent - that is what the fans want, and what we pay for. We don't follow the sport to watch Ferrari and the FIA dictate and strong arm the sport into an untenable position such as it was on the weekend. There are 10 teams competing, not just one. And now it appears that the FIA is going to try and blame the teams for bringing F1 into disrepute. Excuse me? What are they going to do? Ban all seven teams from the next race? I love the sport and will not be turned off by all this petty politicking and behind the scenes backstabbing, but as DC said surely grown men could have sorted out some solution prior to the race so that this didn't happen. Perhaps that's what F1 needs - some grown men in charge.
Wendi Nisbet, Melbourne, Australia
I think that, while there may well be various hidden agendas within F1, the situation on Sunday was pretty clear: Michelin said the tyres weren't safe - correct decision. The teams tried to get the FIA to change the rules or the circuit - correct decision. The FIA said no - correct decision. The Michelin teams didn't race - correct decision. The Bridgestone teams made hay while the sun shone - correct decision. If a horse owner turns up at the racecourse with a lame horse, you wouldn't expect the circuit to be made lame-friendly as a result. Would you?
Steve Taylor, Milton Keynes, UK
I personally agree with the Michelin teams that a compromise could (and indeed should) have been found. The FIA owes it to the supporters of Formula 1: The same fans that keep the likes pf Bernie and Max in the power seats. The fans were well and truly forgotten on Sunday. While the FIA have gone on about rules being followed, the self same FIA should take a look at itself and see how it relaxed those self same rules when it suited their cause; And the main beneficiaries of their generosity has been Ferrari.
Mark Kourie, South Africa
I love F1, it's been a very important part of my life, what is happening now makes me sad, angry, confused, frustrated, you name it, I'll feel it! Bernie and Max have divided and ruled for so long, Bernie does the deals, Max deals with the politics, what a team! There was a time when relative peace reigned, everyone was making a lot of money, the racing was exciting and F1 little world was a pretty good place to be. So what went wrong? When did it change? Perhaps following the death of Senna, or was it Bernie selling out to the banks? Perhaps an amalgamation of incidents, disenchantment with the politically correctness, the need to cater for big business rather than the fans. What happened at Indianapolis really blew the lid off the whole festering can of worms, perhaps the teams feel vindicated by their actions, they certainly came across as a load of very rich and powerful men who were unable to find any common ground so entrenched are they. Of course Max has only himself to blame for this, he seems to like making people feel maybe not so intelligent as he is, but that is not a way to win friends and influence people. In recent years he has constantly kept the teams on the back foot with ever more bizarre rule changes, not aimed at safety, as he preaches, not a cost cutting, why should he care? But with the sole purpose of control. What he hadn't factored in was the teams finally getting together, forgetting their differences to fight the common enemy, the FIA. If he does punish the teams for quite rightly not running unsafe tyres then both he and Bernie should expect all sorts of trouble. Michelin made a mistake and a big one but the FIA one tyre rule was the real culprit and highlighted the over-restricted state of Formula 1. Of course he won't see this as a loud and clear vote of no confidence but the chances of the teams agreeing to stay in Formula 1 under his leadership are, I believe, non-existent. Bernie can promise all he likes, he can make people amazingly rich but at the end of the day, people in motor sport want to race on a fairly level circuit, they want to compete, have a chance of winning and have fun. They need a fair and reasonable hand on the tiller and that they don't have now.
Indy has done so much damage> What happens next will certaily effect the future of the sport. I do hope wise heads prevail.
Loti Irwin, UK
As always there are various team owners, team personnel and media commentators saying very contradictory things. The big question has to be, did the Michelin teams offer to race on a revised track with no points being scored by them, did they accept that the Bridgestone teams would be the only point's scorers? From what I can see from the various reports I have read, it seems as though the FIA has used Michelin's inexcusable screw up to score political points against both Michelin and, more importantly, the Michelin teams who, let's face it, are the main proponents of a break away series. The crime here is not in seizing an opportunity to screw your opponent it is doing so at the expense of the most important people involved - the fans, and at the expense of the sport itself! I have read that the Brazilian GP two years ago was delayed by Charlie Whiting because the Bridgestone full wet tyres could not cope with the sheer volume of water on the track when the Michelin tyres could. Is this true? The race start was certainly delayed though typically all the fans know is what the commentators tell them. Surely such decisions have to be recorded and surely it is simple enough for journalists within the industry to gain access to those records? If it is true, what is the difference between Brazil then and Indy now - either way the tyre manufacturer did not bring the right equipment. If it is true why weren't the Bridgestone runners either forced to compete in unacceptably dangerous conditions or retire, why was the race delayed then but no compromise could be found at Indy? There has to be a way for those of us who love the sport to make a difference. What can be done to ensure that this cannot happen again? If it is not sorted out I will not risk spending thousands of dollars to go to either Sepang or Sakhir as I have done for the last two seasons, nor will I pay to go and see the Istanbul race.
Alan Rooke, Abu Dhabi, UAE
The whole US GP debacle has really thrown Max Mosley's governance of the sport into sharp focus. Whilst, I am sure, he is almost always factually correct that does not mean he does what is "right" or "sensible". I think there can be no doubt that when officials of the FIA act, they do so under the instruction (direct or otherwise) of Max Mosley. In the United States a problem caused by Michelin, for which the FIA had the power to provide the solution. The way I see it is that the initial cause was entirely down to Michelin; the FIA were perfectly justified in taking their stance (and so were Ferrari and the other Bridgestone runners by the way) but given the obvious ramifications of not finding a solution the FIA showed a woeful lack of leadership and foresight; instead they chose to hide behind the politics and forget the fans/promoters/sponsors etc. They were scoring political points when they should have been solving problems. There were many ways of ensuring the race would have run; and quite frankly the Michelin teams would have probably agreed to anything given the alternative. This, sadly, seems to be typical and one has to look directly at Max Mosley as the problem. I distrust an organisation who, in finding participants "guilty" are weak enough to want a grovelling public apology from the very people they have just trampled over. Very, very sad. Michelin will no doubt be dragged through the same process; yet everyone knows that they were not responsible for the shambles that was the US GP. Michelin have quite rightly (and bravely) stood up and admitted failure, they were seeking no advantage from the situation, yet they will (somehow) be blamed for the whole debacle. This inevitability of outcome is what makes the FIA weak. The FIA cannot have any respect at the moment. Possibly the saddest aspect of all of this is that Max Mosley has the intellect, strategic cunning and leadership to make the FIA great
I was a pit/grid marshal at Indy. I volunteered my time, and service like several hundred if not thousands of other individuals taking time off work, and flying myself to Indianapolis, paying my own accommodation and meals and only receiving a shirt, a box lunch and the satisfaction of paying a part in bringing the premiere race series in the world to the public safely and efficiently. My disappointment is as deeply felt as the paying public. I spent the race picking up beer cans off of the pit exit. With no volunteers there will be no race next year regardless of what happens with the IMS, the FIA and FOM. As for who is the blame, well there is plenty to go around with Michelin, the FIA, the teams (particularly Ferrari but probably Toyota too to some extent), Bernie and FOM are all culpable to some extent. I think the race is done. The American public will not forgive easily. It took baseball years to recover. Hockey may not ever.
Brian Manning, Groton, Connecticut, USA
I'm not a fan of the FIA. I'm not a fan of Max Mosley. I am a fan of Ferrari but I am constantly ashamed by the way that they never act in the interest of the sport. I would be the first to accept that the rules and commercial aspects of F1 favour Ferrari over other teams. Why should a small team like Minardi be forced to pay Ferrari money, when they operate on a budget one tenth of Ferrari's? Given, Ferrari has a historic significance to the sport, but they do not need to be made into a special case. A race is only a race when all the competitors compete on equal terms. What happened on Sunday was not in the best interests of the fans, which is what sport is about. Sport is a form of entertainment, like many others. The edge that sport has over other forms of entertainment is the outcome is not predetermined - the thrill and lure of sport is that the story unfolds before your very eyes. The parties involved forgot what sport was about. They forgot their responsibility to the fans. But who was to blame? Firstly, let's remember that the main issue here is that one tyre supplier brought defective tyres to the event. And according to the FIA release, Michelin should have had sets of safer, back-up tyres brought to the event. So some blame must be apportioned to Michelin. The FIA says that they offered the Michelin teams the options of either running the race at reduced speeds through Turn 13, and/or bringing their teams in every 10 to 25 laps to check their tyres. To do anything else would unfairly penalise the Bridgestone entrants, who had brought their tyres and cars to the event configured and set-up for the circuit in question; not a twisty, slower one. Why did the Michelin teams refuse to run the race using the FIA's suggestions? This was a plausible solution. OK, the Michelin teams would have almost certainly lost to Ferrari, but they would have at least put on a show for the fans, which is partly their responsibility. In this way the Michelin teams are partly to blame too. The FIA has called for a meeting with the Michelin teams. I think that it's possible that they will reprimand the Michelin teams. But the Michelin teams will quite rightly turn around and say that they could never have willingly competed in the event, because of the risk of an accident. Had any spectators been injured or killed, there is a good chance that the team would be found liable and be forced to pay damages. Williams has only recently finally got over the Senna trial, and I think we all know that the American legal system is ludicrously punitive in terms of monetary damages. So the teams have a fair argument there, and in this case the American legal system bears some blame. Ferrari also have their fair share of blame for this mess. They had an opportunity to resolve the matter by accepting the suggestion of a chicane through Turn 13. Nine of the other ten teams accepted this suggestion, but Ferrari, obviously not confident in the superiority of their car if it ran on this same (amended) circuit as the other teams, were against it, putting their own interests before those of the fans. This is not the first instance of such arrogance. In October 2004 a proposal which would introduce a single control tyre, the "Cost Saving Initiative" was agreed and signed upon by nine out of the ten teams. Ferrari refused to sign, naturally, as at the time their superiority with Bridgestone was untouchable. How the mighty have fallen. In recent months the boss of Ferrari was heard suggesting that a control tyre should be introduced, conveniently forgetting that it was his team that rejected the idea just nine months ago. Furthermore, all nine out of ten teams agreed to hold no more than 30 days of testing during the whole 2005 season. Ferrari refused, obviously, as they have two private test tracks and two test teams. The fact that they have been testing non-stop all season whilst the other teams have not, should by now mean that the Ferrari F2005 should be blitzing the opposition, like they have in previous seasons. It is not, and therefore something is radically wrong with the F2005. Could it be true that Ferrari is rumoured to have written off the 2005 season completely and is now planning for the 2006 season? Ferrari's Bridgestone colleagues, Jordan and Minardi, have generally stood fast with their Michelin counterparts against the unfair bending of the rules to suit Ferrari. They even stood with the Michelin teams on the issue of the chicane at Turn 13, implying that they too would pull out of the race if a chicane was not implemented. But one should not be surprised that they raced on Sunday. If they did pull out they would definitely have been reprimanded by the FIA, for not competing without a valid excuse. In the end, the Michelin teams had safety grounds to fall back on. Jordan and Minardi had no such luxury, although I'm certain Paul Stoddart would have loved nothing more than to boycott the race in order to thumb his nose yet again in the face of Max Mosley. But above all, a compromise should have been made. A back-up plan should have been in place. This whole scenario should have been envisaged by the organiser, the FIA, when they introduced the one-tyre-set-per-race rule. They did not attempt to resolve the situation with the fans' interests at heart which shows the disregard the FIA has for them. The fans should have been the primary concern. For a long time the FIA has had its proverbial head in the sand when it comes to what the actual punters on the ground think about F1. And they have shown time and time again that they simply don't care. F1 is their sport, and they run it with an iron fist. Anyone who doesn't like it can push off. This is not the attitude a sporting body should take. It is childish, and it will prove to be destructive. Thus, the FIA is, in my opinion, ultimately to blame for this whole sorry episode. The arguments in their press release are justified. However, they have a bigger role to play. They should be looking at the big picture, rather than maintaining a line of stiff-upper-lipped pedantry. They should have first done their utmost to ensure that the matter was handled with the due delicacy it deserved, and then above all should have ensured that a spectacle of an event was held for the fans. The pieces could have been picked up later. They did not. They let down the fans and they let down F1. I don't even have the time or the wherewithal to go into the unfairness of how the commercial side of the sport is run. Needless to say, I am firmly of the belief that the teams have a very good argument when they say that they want to pull out and start their own series, the GPWC, where money will be fairly distributed, and the rules will encourage technical innovation and pure racing and healthy competition. Should Mosley go? Yes. Most definitely. If the FIA delegates demand anything less than his resignation it would a gross injustice. Regardless of the various other issues concerning him, as the head of the FIA he should bear responsibility for the fiasco and should step down, hanging his head in shame. Should the teams pack up and leave? Again, yes. F1 thinks it is too big for anybody to stand up to it. It is not. Let the teams start the GPWC, let F1 fall by the wayside, and let us fans enjoy a proper racing series - one where the winners and losers start and finish on the same terms, and a win is just as possible for anyone. Where if a team has enough grit, determination, and nous, then it can be a front-runner, without needing vast pots of cash and a private testing facility. And if Ferrari aren't there, I for one won't miss them. And that thought shocks nobody more than it shocks me.
I am a very disappointed Ferrari fan from Australia, I take no Pleasure at all in seeing my team win. Putting aside all the politics and finger pointing of how they could have held a race with a full grid, which I believe they could have. I want to know how Michelin with all their vast expertise in race tyre manufacture stuffed up so badly in the first place?
Paul Lee, Tweed Heads, Australia
I have to say I'm a Ferrari fan, but I try to be as objective as I can. The problems appeared since the beginning of the 2005 season, since the new regulations. At the beginning it seemed that they affect just Bridgstone, and especially Ferrari, who really "disappointed" their fans. But no one cared about it. Most of the F1 supporters enjoyed the changes because, they gained the so much wanted "spectacular". If Ferrari and Schumacher don't win, that's good, they said. If they don't have good tyres, too bad for them. The others have and that's the opportunity to win the place they deserved and, obviously, Ferrari and Schumacher still from them. It's the mentality that permitted F1 to reach this critical point. They wanted show, they wanted anything, just for Ferrari not to win anymore. Ferrari won the last seasons because they are good. Or they were good, at the time. Now, everybody seems to be waken. The disaster happened. The disastruous regulation that FIA imposed had done what no one had wished. It transformed the US GP and F1 into a "bad joke". This is no show, this is no sport. Everybody who didn't care about the problems that announced this, since the beggining of the season, must ask himself about guilt.
I have just returned to England after a wonderful first trip to the 24 Heures Du Mans, which meant I missed the Grand Prix of America. For 20 years since the age of seven I had watched every lap of every Grand Prix and called myself an F1 fan. But I am a fan no more. The Indianapolis farce was the final straw for me. Sports fans have to get something in return for their commitment. These days I get more excited about logging into GrandPrix.com than I do watching the races. How mad is that? Formula 1 needs to work out why I have very little interest in watching another Grand Prix, while I can't wait to book my ticket for next year's Le Mans. My Formula 1 heart is broken, but I have a new motorsport mistress.
James Robinson, Somerset, UK
It was far beyond belief! Who is to blame? I think we should first ask a one critical question: What would have happened if there were a third tyre supplier, supplying Toyota and no other team, and then the tyre failures. Would there have been a demand for a chicane under such circumstances? I believe not. It is clear that the Michelin tyres failed and that Michelin failed to bring the secondary tyres. It is also clear that Michelin stated that the teams were not using the tyres in the right way, they were underpressured. The whole tyre mess was entirely Michelins and the seven teams'. I can find no reason to blame anyone other for that. There have been accusations on the FIA for not putting the chicane in Turn 13. Are you serious? What kind of a sport, what kind of Formula 1 would we get, if it were just so easy to bend the rules every time there is considerable pressure from the teams? That would only lead to total confusion and chaos and then we would have real war over rules and regulations. The only way to run a motorsport like F1 is to stick to the rules, especially when bending them or breaching would be for the benefit of some competitors and penalize others. So, what to do now? The mess is a done thing. The damage done. The only right thing to do now, for everyone, is to serously try to heal the wounds and recover. Please do not repeat the mistakes from Indy: Not being able to find a solution. Someone pointed out that if you are going to have a deal, or a compromise, or a solution, everyone must be willing to give something in. Noone can have it all. I see no point in handing the teams heavy punishments. Everyones loss is already too great for that kind of mentality. The best, and only thing to do for the FIA and the teams is to bury the axe and pull themselves together and start behaving like grown intellectual people. Regarding the breakaway series, I don't buy that as any solution. Does anyone really think that commercially run series like that will be any more unified or longer lasting than the current F 1? Don't forget the ConcordeAagreement, that the teams have willingly signed and don't forget, that this agreement can, and should, be changed the next time around. Of course it is the core of all F1's problems, that they all disagree about money. Now, when everyone has lost loads of it, maybe they will come to their senses and make some more sensible rules and agreement about how to deal out the fodder!
Thor Josepsson, Iceland
As usual, there are several ways to look at the problem and the possible cure depends upon the choosen angle. I read the comment posted on Mr. Ecclestone's site ("The official Formula 1 Website") under the title "Michelin teams summoned by FIA". From the FIA point of view, this makes a lot of sense. Rules are the same for all and the teams who came with the wrong tyres should bear the consequences of their (or their supplier's) mistake. After all, one can argue that Ferrari came to the first races with the wrong tyres as well. Then why penalize the poor guys who, this time, came in with the right tyres, by placing a chicane on the track? The security argument makes sense as well. What if a crash had happened at the chicane. Although, it makes less sense in my opinion. But still, everyone who signed a commercial contract knows about the "force majeure" clause. In my opinion, this was a case of force majeure. In that case, the rules may be changed. Then one might have tried to look at this from the point of view of the spectators. They came to the race, paid for the ticket (most of them) and the show was not delivered. There must be someone, somewhere in the organisation who will have to take responsibility for not delivering what was promised to the public. Why not the one who is collecting the money? I am not talking about Tony Georges. I am talking about real money. But F1 has become, little by little, a closed world of very arrogant people who are ready to take the public's money but cannot even imagine that they might be accountable in front of the same public. Those who went to a GP will understand clearly what I mean. You can feel this when you are there. I was invited several times by title sponsors of some of the top teams. Even there, the feeling is the same. You are tolerated but "please do not cross the yellow line". It does not give me a lot of hopes for the future of F1. F1 is a show. It works as a show. If the rules are such that abiding by the rules may end up like this, then it is clear, the rules are bad and must be changed. And while you are changing the rules, do us a favor, change a few people as well. Today, if you want to have fun at a Grand Prix, you should rather go to a MotoGP.
Denys, Moscow, Russia
As two of the hundred thousand odd people at Indy last Sunday our observation is this: Michelin did what was responsible, when life and property were at risk they spoke up and made suggestions how to work around the problem. The Michelin teams did what was responsible given the interpretation of the rules by the FIA, fans came to watch a race - for points and with true competition between all competitors. The FIA was irresponsible in telling the Michelin teams to run at a slower pace, this in fact would have brought the sport in to disrepute because it would not have been a race at all. The interpretation of the rules by Charlie Whiting and Max Mosley caused more harm than any other factor. F1 is a sport governed by rules, not law. Despite what has been said, Ferrari and Bridgestone would not have been at an uncompetitive advantage, their tires would still grip in all the corners no differently than Michelin. Michelin has chosen to live by the spirit of current F1 life, the highest performance without compromise. Ferrari has consistantly acted within the current rules, which allow a genuine lack of regard for sportsmanship. Anyone who loves competition wants real competition and in fact Ferrari damaged F1 with their display of behavior of knowing they would score points by just going out the way they did. To Tony George - I want F1 back at your track, I don't care about NASCAR and am close to feeling that way about the 500. I love F1 because of what it is, the highest form of technology driven by the best in the world. I want to come back next year and see Scott Speed win in my country, on my country's premier race track. When you made F1 available to me for the first time in my 54 years, I have been there every chance I have had (3 years) to be there. F1 is the goal of thousands of young racers here in the US, just look at the current state of karting and the entry level series. The times are changing and road racing is becoming more popular because of the upcoming generation of drivers training for it. The US GP isn't just for the US, it represents the Grand Prix for our fellow American countries like Columbia, Mexico, etc. Look at the crowd that was there. The US GP is more like the Americas Grand Prix because of its accessibility to north, central and south america.
Mark and Caitlin Price, Westville, Indiana
The FIA should be taken out and flogged! I'm an American F1 fan, and yes my wife and I took our week of vacation at Indy only to be treated to a grand farce. Hats off to IMS for putting on a great show at a wonderful facility. They got cheated the same as we fans did. Why did so many people stay in the stands? Well, at $105.00 per ticket plus all the other costs, I wasn't going to just walk away. Michelin should have been better prepped for the race, however they did raise the issue 48 hours before the start on Sunday. If this had been 2004 everyone would have simply changed tires. For years this was standard! But the people at the FIA decided that for cost savings and safety reasons in 2005 there will be only one set of tires per race. I'm sure McLaren felt they saved a lot of money, and were much safer, when Kimi's suspension failed due to a damaged $1500 tire. As this author points out F1 and the FIA/FOM are simply a bunch of mega-rich egotists whose only concern is their internal politics. The fans? Who cares about them? No possible way to find a compromise to let the race go on before 150,000 paying spectators. Let's just play our games! Yes, some of the spectators showed bad manners, but let's be thankful it wasn't some other country! I can fully imagine there would have been a complete riot had this happened elsewhere. Bernie, Max, go and take your ''spec car'' 2008 rules with you.
My opinion as a fan is that we were let down by the FIA; as we have been a lot lately. Personally I believe if Max Mosley has his way our beloved sport will be turned to a standard spec series. A chicane being built or letting teams switch tires should have been allowed. As far as rules go he should remember that before implementing formula changes, such as V8 engines, before the current Concorde Agreement runs out. His changes need to be stopped. Formula 1 needs to be a technology and driver driven sport. I for one say bring back lower wing and wider wheel tracks. Why not have a three engine formula; 2.6 liter 12 cylinders; 3 liter 10s, or 3.4 liter 8s, or a similar system? Mosley is bringing down what the fans want to see. Granted F1 is a lot better racing this year but you could have the same thing without the FIA intruding so much.
Justin Bodman, USA
I can tell how bad all this is getting since there is a front page article about it in the LA Times this morning. Normally over here F1 is posted in the deepest darkest depths of the sports page where no one can find it unless there is some sort of disaster like this. From the article you can clearly see the two sides - the FIA and Ferrari against everyone else. To me, it was actually Ferrari that pushed this whole thing over the edge by refusing to compromise on the issues there on the ground in Indy. Of course there is plenty of blame to go around. Maybe Max Mosley should step down now, for the good of the sport, and let someone else try to arrange a settlement of this mess.
David N. Cook, Oxnard, California, USA
If I had been a shareholder of Bayerische Landesbank, JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers I would have been calling for them to remove Bernie, but after this weekends events, I would be calling for the removal of the board members who made the decision to keep BE in charge. They have seriously damaged their own asset by letting things continue. BE, and MM knew that Michelin were serious about not racing and everything else is lip service. The banks 75% share of SLEC may have lost $100m or more in value just because of yesterday. BE was quoted as saying the fans got cheated, 130,000 fans paid on average $100 = $13m. Maybe one loss hides the other. What if the council decides to punish all the Michelin teams, by taking away all of their points for the year, and the seven teams decide not to continue the season, there are nine more GPs to go and they will all look like Sunday. It is finally time for the GPWC to flex some real muscle and show their real strength. Who draws the racing fans? And who draws people dressed in red?
Butch MacPherson, Canada
It's about a bunch of rich, immature, Europeans who are acting like children! I began watching Formula 1 a few years ago, getting up early in the morning to watch the coverage on Speed Channel, and have been a loyal fan of it. I've defended this sport to many of friends who only watch NASCAR and have gotten a few of them to begin watching Formula 1. That all changed yesterday. Until there is new regulation and management of Formula 1, I will no longer watch, and thousand of Americans feel the same way. Formula 1 burned a major bridge yesterday, and it is going to take many, many years for the sport to be welcome again in America. What happened yesterday has turned many Americans off to a great form of auto racing, and let me tell ya, NASCAR, IRL, and CART are laughing all the way to the bank, they just got an increased number of viewers. And here I thought the, IRL/CART split was screwed up. The IRL and CART are sane and well-managed compared to Formula 1. The best thing Tony George can do is turn the US Grand Prix weekend into an IRL and NASCAR double header on the road-course at IMS - he'd make a fortune, enough to refund all of the tickets from yesterday and then some. Bernie needs to go, Max needs to go, the FIA needs to go. Formula 1 needs new management, not these fossils that are in here now. A regulating body needs to be set up that is run by a board of team owners with a majority vote ruling the day. Until then, you'll see sky-rocketing budgets and outrageous ticket prices. I hope one day I can bring myself to watch an F1 race again, but it won't be anytime soon.
Ryan Gray, USA
Funny, and I thought it was about racing. Who, in God's name, really wants to dissect the Byzantine motives of a bunch of bought, bickering, multi-millionaires? I certainly don't have the stomach for it. Michelin, Mosley, Ferrari, FIA - who really cares? If the billions spent on this sport result in a non-event like Indianapolis, then let's just pack it up and go home. No sense discussing it, just pull the plug. And to Vodafone, West, Marlboro, Petronas, Allianz, Lucky Strike, Red Bull, BMW, Fiat, Mercedes, Toyota, Honda, et al. Forget it, I won't buy your products.
Mick Ryan, Berlin, Germany
I have been a fan of the sport since my father decided that going to see F1 at Zandvoort would be a great father and son thing to do on a weekend. But I won't bore you with a tirade on how much things were better in the early eighties, you know that. Just one comment on the big blame game that's currentlly being played: I find it surprising that there is so littlle talk about what is, in my opinion, the root cause of the problem: the poorly conceived technical and sporting regulations for the 2005 season. We have a situation where technically challenging grooved tyres wich have to be quick in single lap qualifying and on a long run now also have to last for an entire race. Not a big problem per se, but we've got two competing manufacturers and very open requirements regarding tyre design. That left a lot of freedom to explore what kind of rubber works - and what kind doesn't. The regulations are pretty detailed about the chemical qualities of permitted fuels, about crash tests and survival cells, the location of on board camera, even the right way to hold a podium ceremony is described. Why are there no minimum specifications that make sure that a tyre actually lasts a race? This is yet another unprofessional mistake in rule-making. Perhaps the time has come to simply look for a better governing body to save our sport?
Today I returned to Los Angeles from Sunday's sad display of egocentric self-importance and utter disregard for Formula 1 fans. Before the "race," I took pictures for excited F1 supporters at Indianapolis from Uruguay, Brazil and India to cheer on their favorites. My brother drove hundreds of miles to meet me for his first F1 experience. All of us were left wondering how a group of adults as intelligent and sophisticated as the Formula 1 insiders consider themselves to be could be incapable of a decision (albeit a compromise) that would deliver the race that was promoted and reasonably expected by 150,000 ticket holders. On the other hand, after the recent bickering among and posturing displayed by the several teams, Mr. Mosley and the FIA, we should not have been surprised. Your question is whether Max Mosley should go or the teams should go.
Either way, F1 in the United States is seriously diminished. I frankly do not know whether it is worth saving - it is less a sport and more just an ill conducted business. I don't want to cheer on a mere corporation or its minions. The Michelin teams and FIA slapped fans in the face yesterday. Ferrari gets no accolades for their usual intractability. I feel some sympathy for Red Bull, after all it did with the search for the next American Formula 1 driver. That investment has been more than a wee bit compromised. F1 can bid farewell to most new and potential F1 fans in the United States. I have been a fan for almost 40 years, and my disgust is hard to contain. Formula 1's display of adolescent immaturity returned it to irrelevance in the United States. How sad. How very sad.
Thomas Miller, Los Angeles, California
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