THE TYRE TERROR

Triumph of reason: Michael Schumacher wins in the absence of all Michelin cars

The 2005 United States Grand Prix had seen the smallest field ever competing in a Grand Eprèuve. With only six cars on the grid less competitors had been available than in Imola 1982, where 14 entries had been seen caused by the boycott of the FOCA teams at the climax of the great FOCA - FISA war. Hectical meetings had taken place until four minutes before the close of the pit lane. All seven teams on Michelin rubber had got the (written) order not to take part in the race, because the French company was not able to guarantee the safe passing of the turn 13 banking. So they had decided to take part in the formation lap then to come into the pits to leave the Bridgestone cars of Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi alone on the grid driving a lonely race. That was expectedly dominated by seventimes world champion Michael Schumacher for his 84th career victory. " I want a two car finish," Ross Brawn radiowed to his drivers, because they nearly had collided in lap 51, when Schumacher was leaving the pits after his second halt to stay in the lead, but Barrichello had attacked him in the first corner. Then the Brazilian had been forced to go through the grass. Meanwhile the crowds on the grandstands had calmed down. Noticing only six cars waiting for the red lights leaving motivated the people for a hail of catcalls. A banner was shown: $ back. During the first laps water bottles and beer cans were thrown onto the track, oil flags were shown by the marshals. One water bottle was hit by the back wheels of Rubens Barrichello´s car to make it explode in a spectacular way. There was the risk of the 2005 United States Grand Prix to be stopped by the behaviour of the people. The Americans, not being Transatlantic Europeans, did not understand, what had really happened. An IRL driver having crashed into the wall takes his spare care to continue competing, but there is a long list of hurt and killed drivers in US-American motor racing. The fine art of Grand Prix Racing is very different from the pretty primitive American business, but neither the official track reporters nor the organizers had been able to inform the public correctly. On the podium no representatives of the Hulman-George family, the owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, were seen. The happiest man in Indianapolis 2005 was Grand Prix novice Tiago Monteiro on third place behind the Ferrari drivers. The young man from Portugal, who had finished all the 2005 nine races so far, was the only driver spraying champagne.

The whole trouble had begun during the second free practice session on Friday with the Toyotas of Ricardo Zonta and Ralf Schumacher stranded with flat left rear tyres nearly the same time. Zonta spun into the grass of the infield but Schumacher crashed into the wall of turn 13 at high speed, nearly at the same place, where he had broken two vertebras in 2004. In contrast to that year Schumacher left his cockpit by his own, he was taken to hospital suffering under headache and seeing a shadow in front of one of his eyes. F.I.A. senior consultant Dr Gary Hartstein did not allow Schumacher to compete in the event any longer, the German left the USA to return to his home in Hallwang/Austria. Meanwhile Zonta was appointed second driver of Toyota for the 2005 United States Grand Prix. Michelin had begun to examine the defect tyres, but the did find out the exact reasons for the punctures. Jarno Trulli scored the historic maiden pole position for Toyota. Then the Clermont Ferrand tyre maker came to the conclusion, that both their 2005 Indianapolis compounds were not safe enough to drive through the banking at high speed and they gave out the order to their teams, not to take part in the 73 lap race using the current tyres. Some months ago, before the Indianapolis 500, the asphalt of the oval had got longitudinal grooves for better grip and drainage.

After Michelin´s decision things had become extremely difficult. And that under the circumstances, that the political struggle for the regulations of the time past the year of 2007 already had begun. Some days before the 2005 United States Grand Prix F.I.A president Max Mosley had published his list of suggestions, containing a lot of more foolish restrictions for the technology. To cancel the race completely was impossible. Tony George and his organizers, many sponsors and television companies had taken proceedings against the already weakened Ecclestone empire (with the Kirch banks owning 75 per cent of it) for billions of dollars. To construct a chicane in front of the banking shortly before the race had meant the circuit lose it´s homologation and by that it´s insurance cover. The teams have got the duty to compete in all 19 worldchampionship Grand Prix. But to race using tyres being declared unsafe under certain conditions by it´s producers had meant committing a crime with intent. So the compromise found was pretty clever looking at it from the legal point of view: The seven teams using Michelin rubber had fulfilled their duty to organizers, F.I.A. and Formula one management when taking part in qualifying and formation lap. But they did not violate law avoiding a 73 laps race passing the high speed banking also 73 times. To use the 2005 Barcelona tyres also had not made sense: That compound had been constructed for a very different kind of track and could have produced even more dangers at the banking. No doubt, the spectators on the grandstands and millions in front of their television screens got angry watching only six cars on the track. But Ralf Schumacher, the man surviving the most dangerous accidents in Grand Prix Racing during the last years, expresses it clearly: Here the lives of human beings are in danger. I consider the decision of the team principals, who had decided pro their drivers, a very great one.

It is out of any question, that the public reputation Grand Prix Racing had lost a lot of it´s substance in America by the circumstances of the 2005 United States Grand Prix making much work to be done in the future to conquer back lost territory. But it is also a fact, that the US Grand Prix is not very well promoted by it´s organizers and the the responsible Hulman-George family - neither in the city of Indianapolis nor all over the big country. In contrast to Montjuich 1975 (four men killed, Rolf Stommelen seriously hurt), where the organizers first had to been able to split the teams to force them to race finally, this time the solidarity among the teams was unique. It cannot be praised enough, because all in motor racing are extreme rivals. The race had been won by reason and humanity, business interests had been put into the background. Psychological and financial damage can be repaired, but a human life lost is forever. People, who throw cans and bottles onto racing cars going at 300 km/h are potential murderers. It is the task of the authorities at Indianapolis to identify the perpetrators by the videos existing of the race to take them to court.

Both Michelin and the F.I.A. had done one of the worst jobs ever to Grand Prix Racing. The French tyre company, proud of so many innovations made by their enterprise, had had to know the facts about the new surface of the Indianapolis banking to supply their teams at least with one of the two compounds being able to resist the existing conditions. The troubles around the tyre situation at the United States Grand Prix also show the nonsense of the 2005 regulations allowing no change of tyres during the race anymore. Under the 2004 and before rules the whole drama had been able to be avoided. It must be clear: Structures and decision makers on the top of Grand Prix Racing are not good enough to cope with the problems of the sport at the beginning of the 21st century. Only reforms are not enough. New structures have to be created, new personalities have to be found. Solidarity is difficult to be found under the condition of rivalry. But it is the key to success.

JS / KE

 

Starting Grid
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1 J Trulli 1:10.625

2 K Raikkonen 1:10.694

3 J Button 1:11.277

4 G Fisichella 1:11.290

5 M Schumacher 1:11.369

6 F Alonso 1:11.380

7 R Barrichello 1:11.431

8 T Sato 1:11.497

9 M Webber 1:11.527

10 F Massa 1:11.555

11 JP Montoya 1:11.681

12 J Villeneuve 1:11.691

13 R Zonta 1:11.754

14 C Klien 1:12.132

15 N Heidfeld 1:12.430

16 D Coulthard 1:12.682

17 T Monteiro 1:13.462

18 C Albers 1:13.632

19 N Karthikeyan 1:13.776

20 P Friesacher 1:14.494

 

Results
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2005 United States Grand Prix, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, 73 Laps à 4.192 km = 306.016 km, Weather: Air 26° C, Track 29°C, Humidity 44 %

1 M Schumacher 1:29:43.181

2 R Barrichello +1.522

3 T Monteiro +1 Lap

4 N Karthikeyan +1

5 C Albers +2

6 P Friesacher +2

 

Retirements

Formation Lap: All cars on Michelin caused by tyre problems

 

Fastest Lap

M Schumacher 1:11.497 (Lap 48)

 

Worldchampionship Standings
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Drivers

1 F Alonso 59

2 K Raikkonen 37

3 M Schumacher 34

4 R Barrichello 29

5 J Trulli 27

6 N Heidfeld 25

7 M Webber 22

8 R Schumacher 20

9 G Fisichella 17

10 D Coulthard 17

11 JP Montoya 16

12 F Massa 7

13 T Monteiro 6

14 A Wurz 6

15 J Villeneuve 5

16 N Karthikeyan 5

17 C albers 4

18 P de la Rosa 4

19 C Klien 4

20 P Friesacher 3

21 V Liuzzi 1

 

Constructors

1 Renault 76

2 McLaren Mercedes 63

3 Ferrari 63

4 Williams BMW 47

5 Toyota 47

6 Red Bull Cosworth 22

7 Sauber petronas 12

8 Jordan Toyota 11

9 Minardi Cosworth 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos © Ferrari Press Office, West McLaren Mercedes, Red Bull Racing, TMC, Minatdi F1 and Sauber Motorsport

 

© 2005 by researchracing

 

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