Tuesday, June 21, 2005

FTP: Formua-1 U.S Grand Prix - 2005, a major debacle!

Yes, it turned out to be a weird and farcical grand prix, something that I've never seen happen before in all my years of dedicated F1 watching. Actually, I did not get to catch the action, or rather, non-action live, as I was travelling that night. And was I glad ? ... well not too sure yet.

How the mess-up unfolded, and my comments on the same, to follow:

Friday: Ralf Schumacher hits a wall after a sudden left tyre failure. For a normal observer, this would have looked nothing strange as it was coming from one of the finest examples to the Principle of Uncertainity. But from an inner angle, Michelin tyres were showing signs of wear.

Saturday: Michelin advises its 7 teams that its tyres cannot be guaranteed for the race, and, in my words, tries to blackmail the FIA by writing to them demanding introduction of an additional chicane to Turn-13. FIA rightly rejects. Why not ? Its Michelin's responsibility to bring suitable and competent tyres, rather than try to bring changes to the circuit. I gladly quote the words of Charlie Whitling, FIA Director in response to Michelin's unsportive request -

"To change the course in order to help some teams with a performance problem caused by their failure to bring suitable equipment would be a breach of the rules and grossly unfair to those teams that have come to Indianpolis with the correct tyres."

I believe that was well said, and experts agree. The track doesnt change dynamically, nor is it different for Bridgestone and for Michelin. They should have been prepared. What else for is there a Constructor's Championship apart from Driver's Championship, if such details are not encompassed within that?
How would it look like if a cricketing team on the eve of a much-awaited match writes to the ICC or the match authorities saying that, some of our bowlers have arm-injuries, so can we have a 25-over match, as aggravating their injuries would be a safety concern for the team. No! They should come with a fit team in the first place.


There were a few options made available to the Michelin teams, like repeated pit-stopping to change tyres, despite the one-tyre rule, as this was a genuine safety conern. But they were not considered. Meanwhile, Bridgestone stands strong :)

Sunday: The 7 Michelin teams withdraw from the race after the formation lap. All the remaining Bridgestone cars complete the race.

Schumacher emerges winner as expected and catches up with Alonso and Raikonnen, still finding himself in a position to compete for the Driver's championship. But as unexpected, (or, was it ? for me it was ) the finishers, including Schumacher and Barrichello were being boo'ed. This I believe, was irrational on the audience's behalf. Why I say this is, I don't get the logic behind mocking at the drivers who completed the race. I agree that Schumacher should not and most definitely will not credit this victory to his guiness history in Formula One. I also agree that if I were amongst the crowd I would have wanted by dollar back, but then what did the crowd expect from these drivers ? Withdraw too ? But why ? Is that fair enough ? In that case, they wouldn't have got to see even 6 cars race. So anyways the race was over. It is not any of these drivers' faults that the other cars could not race, and something so big as the FIA CANNOT make its rules so flexible to succumb to one party's demands.

So all the die-hard booers, I suggest you boo at Michelin, rather than at Ferrari and FIA.

This race was not just a cosmetic failure, has a lot of repercussions impending. What is the future of F1 in US, a market that Bernie Ecclestone was desperate to capture ? What is the future of Michelin ? And most importantly, what is the future of Ferrari in F1-2005 ? -----> Right, they're bouncing back !

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10 Comments:

Blogger Ponniyinselvan said...

Dei thakkaali,
I was there at Indianapolis. No, the audience were not booing at Ferrari. They were expressing their angst against FIA. And FIA could have allowed Michelin teams or all teams to change tires. What would they have done if all teams were running on one tire and there was a problem with the tire. Run the race with zero cars? They could have made some sensible decision with the good of the sport in consideration.

BTW, good to see that u have a blog. Just came to know abt it from Anand.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Anand Swaminathan said...

And FYI, eventhough the sad turn of events could be attributed to dirty politics in the F1 world and teams waiting to discredit Ecclestone at the first chance, it was totally not Michelin's fault.

FYI, the Indy circuit underwent a change in the turn 12/13 in question, wherein it was diamond ground to make it more level. Brigestone was aware of this issue already.

But anyway if Ferrari go on to win the Championship from here, it would be another on Ferrari's dubious victories. :-( I hope u guys dont end up in such a situation. ;-)

11:59 AM  
Blogger Anand Swaminathan said...

I dont mean to say Michelin are innocent.Anyway, the competition has become more interesting now.

BTW, why is no one excited about our "Kovai Siruthai" earning his first points in F1. It is very much possible these are his last points too. ;-)

12:05 PM  
Blogger Padmanaban Kumar (paddu) said...

Anand,

I dont understand whats the F1 politics here. If Bridgestone already knew of a change in the ckt, then why couldn't Michelin know ? calrify...
And I also disagree that if at all Ferrari go on to win the championships ( while I have my own doubts about it, as they still don't look v competent ), it need not be a dubious victory. Do you mean to say 1 such race will have such a say ? I dont think so.

And yes, btw, Narain hogged the limelight. For all he spoke, he atleast got some points, hmm...setting aside the direction from which they came. Good to see Sania play well yesterday too, too bad she lost. Indians are earning fame in areas of sports which were unfamiliar with India.

1:14 AM  
Blogger Padmanaban Kumar (paddu) said...

hey sk,

so u got to see a F1 race live huh ? man i envy you. I heard from folks that Ferrari were boo'ed at the podium. If that was not true, I'm more than happy.

I disagree with your argument. There could be lot of if's and but's, but they didnt happen. If all the cars had same tyres and there was a problem, in the name of the sport the rules could be c hanged. But that is not the case here, and cannot be compared. What if the change Michelin demanded, didn't suit ( not necessarily harm) Bridgestone ? So, they're going to fight.

So I still stand by the FIA.

1:17 AM  
Blogger Anand Swaminathan said...

Basically, Bridgestone's subsidiary in US, Firestone, makes tyres for Indy500 races, but Michelin knew nothing abt the circuit.

There is a lot of politics happening. Only Ferrari has extended its agreement with FIA. Other teams threatening to start their own championship :-)

I hope u will be there at Indy next year ;-)

3:14 AM  
Blogger Padmanaban Kumar (paddu) said...

hmmm...the second point makes sense, with Ferrari alone extending its agreement. but the first one, well...i'm still not convinced that changing the track was done overnight or shadily or something, for Michelin and all its teams to not know, my guess is they would have known of the change but didn't anticipate the consequence.

well, i hope so too, not sure yet...me going to be unemployed then :-)

3:23 AM  
Blogger Padmanaban Kumar (paddu) said...

And Mosley says that Michelin has to reimburse the fans !
The fun is not over....

on a separate track, BMW buys Sauber and plans to launch F1 team in 2006. And probably Williams will no longer have the BMW power soon..

6:11 AM  
Anonymous peru said...

anand,
the race track was never changed, it has always been the same. they layed out a new tarmac this year, but layout wasnt changed. Michelin went overboard in their effort to get high performance tires.

they have admitted that their design was flawed and didnt expect such an effect on their tires. FYI, the new tires that new flew out from their factory on race day also wasnt safe. so it was obviosuly the fault of michelin engineer.. and so they shld rightly compensate the spectators. I was there at the race and I was disappointed too. (ofcourse I was happy that schumi won :))

4:36 PM  
Anonymous peru said...

and while on the topic of who is at fault here - I believe the 7 teams are partly to be blamed too for this fiasco.. they had a number of options at hand (using pits, slowing down in that corner etc) but they insisted on a chicane (which is ridiculous). They say that they were most concerned abt putting up a show for the ppl and were ready to let bridgestone teams go first, etc etc.. but thats BS.. if they were really concerned abt F1, they cld have atleast raced for 7th and 8th place or even better. They wanted an even race with ferrari, but thats not fair for others.

I personally think that a chicane wldnt have helped either.. michael said that some have confessed that corner 12 wasnt the only problem. i think it was all just a big drama to show the world they tried everything they cld..

check out this article:
http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_news_item.php?fes_art_id=24941

4:49 PM  

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