INDIANAPOLIS – Many Formula One fans were outraged by the
withdrawal of all but six cars before the start of the United
States Grand Prix on Sunday.
The other 14 cars, representing the seven teams that use
Michelin tires, pulled off the track after the warmup lap because
of safety concerns and a failure to reach a compromise that would
have allowed them to compete.
Many people left the race and demanded ticket refunds.
"I came all the way from South America, from Bolivia, to watch
this thing. But for me, this is the last time that I go to Formula
One," said one man, who identified himself only as Gustavo. "I'm
not only speaking for myself, but probably for a lot of people who
come from different parts of the world to watch only six stupid
"To just give the race away like that is not fair for us, the
fans. … We want our money back."
Another fan called it "an absolute outrage."
"I have been to this race every year they've had it here," fan
Joe Huling said. "My brothers and I have followed Formula One
since the '70s and have never seen anything as outrageous as this.
As far as I'm concerned, if they do have a race here again, I would
be questionable about coming here."
The cars that raced were the Ferraris of winner Michael
Schumacher and runner-up Rubens Barrichello, the Jordans of Tiago
Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan and the Minardis of Christijan
Albers and Patrick Friesacher.
"I wanted to see Ferrari win, but not like this," fan James
McAden said. "We never seen such a thing in motor racing. We came
from South Carolina. This is not good for Grand Prix racing in
Scott Brombacher, a fan from California, said he was disgusted as he left.
"I love Formula One ... it just aggravates me," Brombacher
said. "I spent a lot of money and took a week off from work to
come out here. To have all this happen at the last minute is just
The United States is the rare country that has not fully embraced the
world's top racing series, and teams have been working hard to tap into the lucrative market.
All seven teams that pulled out of the race signed a single statement apologizing for the debacle.
"We are totally aware that the USA is an important market for
Formula One and there is an obligation for Formula One to promote
itself in a positive and professional manner," it said.
A subdued Michael Schumacher, who won his fourth
U.S. Grand Prix with only token opposition by teammate Rubens
Barrichello, admitted he had mixed emotions.
"Certainly today was a very unique Grand Prix, but to be
honest, it wasn't in our hands," Schumacher said. "There's
nothing we could have done. … I don't know what their [Michelin]
problem was, but it wasn't our problem."
Schumacher was aware that many fans were booing.
"But there were a lot of people yelling. There were still a lot
of supporters there, being happy with what we did," he said.
The fiasco won't destroy F1 in the United States, Schumacher
"We've had good ones, we had a difficult one, and we'll have
good ones again," he said.
Formula One put politics above sport, said Paul
Stoddart, the team principal for Minardi.
"Nine of the 10 competing teams had agreed that in the
interests of safety, a temporary chicane needed to be placed before
the final turn," Stoddart said.
The idea was rejected by FIA President Max Mosley, and "in no
uncertain terms, the teams were told that, should this occur, there
would be no race," he said.
"I have complete sympathy with the Michelin teams and can take
neither satisfaction from nor interest in this afternoon's race, if
you can call it that," he said.
The happiest driver may have been Tiago
Monteiro of Portugal, whose third place gave him his first F1
points and first podium finish.
Monteiro, who drives for Jordan, qualified 17th on Saturday and
knew he didn't have a competitive car -- until the boycott
eliminated almost all of the competition.
"We always hope for a crazy race, to get the points. But I
would never imagine a situation like that," Monteiro said. "It is
a sad race. It's a shame what happened, but I'm happy, really
Jarno Trulli, who would have started from the
pole, called the withdrawal of the Michelin Seven a "shame for
Formula One" but the only reasonable option.
"We all knew … to run and finish the race was too
dangerous," the Toyota driver said. "But that's life. Sometimes
these things can happen. … We have analyzed data, and Michelin
has analyzed data. They felt we were in danger today, so it was as
simple as that."
Trulli said he wasn't upset that Ferrari decided to race.
"Ferrari was right where they expect the rules were clear from
the race director," he said. "That's the rules. If you cannot
race, you do not race."
The tire problem that limited Sunday's race to six
drivers was caused by the banking in the final turn, which is Turn
1 of Indy's regular oval course but Turn 13 of the reconfigured
road course used for the this race.
Michelin said going into that turn -- the only one that is banked
-- puts added stress on the tires at high speed.
"The corner is not a corner," said David Coulthard, whose Red
Bull Racing was one of the seven F1 teams that pulled out after the
"We come through the oval. … It is an easy corner, but the
reality is it takes a lot of stress in the tire. We are just not
designed to drive those types of corners at these speeds."
Rubens Barrichello, whose Ferrari team uses Bridgestone, said he
had no problem with the tires in practice or qualifications.
"We have in the past, but we've sorted them out," he said.
"With the rules like they are, there will be a time when you bring
a couple types of tires for the track. There will be times you get
Red Bull was fined $3,000 because driver David
Coulthard drove in reverse in the pits during practice Saturday.
… David Saelens of Belgium won Sunday's Porsche Michelin Supercup
support race by 1 second over Alessandro Zampedri. Saelens also won
the first Supercup race Saturday, his first victory of the season.
… Richard Philippe of Key Biscayne, Fla., won the second Formula
BMW race Sunday, beating Tobias Hegewald of Germany by 4.2 seconds. Australian James Davison, who won the first BMW race Saturday, was 23rd, one lap down.