G.P. in the "Real" World - What Would You Do?

This past weekend there was a fiasco at the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis. No, it wasn’t a huge wreck - at least not in the normal sense - but it affected every spectator, team member and sponsor in this “premiere” sport. Out of a normal field of 20 cars & drivers, six actually competed - the rest did the pre-start formation lap and drove in to their garages. The reason: tires - or Gracious Professionalism, depending on your viewpoint.

The “official” reason was that of the two tire manufacturers supplying the teams, Michelin was not able to supply “their” teams with tires which they felt would withstand the punishment of a high-speed banked turn. In practice two cars running Michelins had tire failures, one in that banked turn resulted in a driver being slightly injured and not being able to compete the rest of the weekend. The other supplier, Bridgestone, had no problems with their tires.

The Michelin teams were told by that manufacturer that if they ran, they would have to go slowly in that turn, but realistically there was no way any of the drivers would just slow down and let the Bridgestone runners blow by. They’d take their chances and run full speed. It’s what they do. So all of the Michelin teams decided that, to prevent a series of almost certain major crashes, they had no choice but to not run.

This is where G.P. comes in. All but one team (Bridgestone-shod Ferrari) was willing to compromise and have a chicane installed to lower the speeds in that turn to allow all to compete in the race. Ferrari, as was their right, refused to go along. The organizers of the race could have gone ahead and put the chicane in anyway, but then the sanctioning body would have had to declare the race invalid for the championship (rules are rules, and for the long-term viability of the sport, they could not change them to suit one tire company).

So, all the fans who had paid huge sums for their tickets got to see a six-car race distance test session, “won”, of course, by Ferrari.

My question to you, the FIRST community, is: what would you do if you were:

The Michelin-running teams?
The Indy race organizers?
The Formula One series sanctioning body?

(FWIW, I think Ferrari showed very poor GP and the teams and Formula One did what they had to do, but the organizers should have bitten the bullet and, for the sake of the fans put in the chicane, even if it did invalidate the race for the championship.)

Ok heres what I think…

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway should not reimburse the fans, it should 100% come from Michelin or F-1. IMS had nothing to do with Michelin’s poor tires so why should they pay the fans?

IMS was not responsible for making a chicane. FIA officials are the ones who make those decisions. Considering it wasn’t brought forth until race morning it would have been near impossible to get a half decent chicane built that quickly. Also, why should Bridgestone teams have to adapt to a track that they don’t even need. It’s racing, “race what you brought”, if Michelin didn’t want to fly over new tires over night, it seems to me its ALL their fault. Sure, I know theres a 1 set of tires per week rule, but give everyone a new set of tires.

This certainly comes back to safety, but suppliers to race teams should be reliable and know what to bring. They have had 5 GP’s without any tires problems, what was so different about the 6th? They knew the stresses the tires would have in turn 13. They should have prepared the tires for the stress. About the Michelin teams, Bridgestone was offering to loan out 3 sets of tires, no teams accepted…maybe for contract reasons but in that situation I would think Michelin would allow it.

I believe the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s reputation was tarnished by this, when it shouldn’t have been. It’s not called “The Racing Capital of the World” for nothing. I have visited Daytona and Talladega and I must say, those are not near as fan friendly as IMS.

Last point…I think the FIA and Michelin should reimburse the fans. I do hope that F-1 comes back. But, they should have ALL suppliers bring the appropriate equipment.

-Just my thoughts about it-

I don’t think that this is a matter of G.P. but rather a example of Michelin not being able to supply good racing tires. Not once did I see the feild change between matches to adapt to the new robots that were to compete on it during this year’s season. What might have been a better alternative would have been bridgestone supplying tires to the Michelin teams. Both ways Michelin has suffered a serious blow by this happening and there could be alot of sponsorship deals changing now because of this. It would have been Gracious Professionalism fo the Bridgestone teams if possble to call upon Bridgestone tosupply tires for the other Michelin teams but then again you then present problems of the rival companies. It is unfortunate to the fans that this happened but that is the fact of what happened. Also to comment on IMS. My Godfather, who races GT class, has always loved coming down to IMS because of the friendliness he feels from the people in Indy and from the fans themselves.

Thats my two cents.

Don’t want to get off topic, this is a great thread, but there are a few corrections Id like to make to your post.

  1. The tire situation was Michelin didnt know why the tire was busting on the (Normal Turn 1 of IMS) final turn (and only banked turn) of the Grand Prix course, and they offered replacement tires that the teams could use, if F1 would have allowed an 11th hour change (which changes made during that time are very rare). F1 denied the request because they felt that they shouldnt make a rule change for teams who “brought the wrong equipment” to the track. So in the end Michelin said, well we cant do anything about this, so if you feel our tire isn’t safe at the track, don’t race.

  2. Bridgestone only had enough tires at the track for their 6 teams and getting them to send extras that close to the race would have been impossible. The 11th hour tire change request that was denied by F1 would also make this against the rules.

The tire manufacturers had their hands tied behind their back…if F1 would have allowed this rule change, then we probably would have had a full race.

This is a very tough situation.
I am not entirely sure what I would do in this case. I also am not entirely sure that GP actually can be related in black and white to the Ferrari team. I think some people are going to blame them for the poor race, and I would not necessarily side with them, but they are in a business. Their business is to win, and they are not going to allow a rule change that doesn’t need to be made just to accommodate teams with different equipment. F1 cars have very very strict requirements on all components of their cars, and these are almost all for safety reasons. (the faster the car, the harder it crashes)

As far as the business goes, you can do two things in my opinion:

  1. Business look at fiances as the end all say all. Decisions are made so that they can make more money. (Out-sourcing for one). This may not be the correct moral thing to do, but the business is profitable off of it.
  2. Many times, Business make decisions everyday that end up costing them money. They don’t do it because it was a mistake, but they do it because it pleases the costumer, and in return, this customer comes back again and again. These decisions were made with the well being of the company in mind, not just the well being of the companies bank account.

Ferrari chose option 1. They won the race, they won money, and they won points. Ferrari’s bank account is now more attractive, but all the people in Indy and all around look down on them for that choice. Did they make the right choice? I believe that time will tell, but for sure the manufacturers will take a closer look at the forces these cars have because these cars keep accelerating fast, and stopping faster.

The Michelin-running teams? Look into different manufacturer, Investigate the cause and see who is to blame.
The Indy race organizers? Nothing, they had no control because they were limited by the Formula One series sanctioning body.
The Formula One series sanctioning body? Look in to the costs of changing the rules, the pros, cons, and see if another issue like this can be resolved better.

(if there is incorrect information in the post, I am sorry, it was posted to the best of my knowledge.)

Ferrari SHOULD NOT be looked down upon. They won by following the rules. Why should they or any of the Minardi’s or Jordan’s adjust their car/driving style to include a chicane put in for ill-prepared cars?

One last point for some of you who aren’t really in the racing “circle” Indy cars go approximately 20-40 mph faster then the F-1 cars at Indy. The F-1 wrecks look a lot more violent, in-part to the EXTREME downforce that those cars have.

(side note: if you have any racing questions, I can at least make an educated guess if not know the answer to your question.)

Now to answer PeteK’s questions:

What would I do if I were Ferrari? Celebrate another terrific win with no regrets, they prepared the car with good parts, why should they regret it?

If I was on a Michelin-running team? I would look into how much R&D Michelin does compared to Bridgestone and if they don’t meet certain standards, I would switch to Bridgestone tires. A big mess up like this from a main-stream tire company is ridiculous.

What if I were an IMS organizer? I would have a closed-door face to face discussion with FIA officials and “hammer” out a deal to make the fans happy, considering fans is the reason why they are racing. Maybe also think about bringing other road race cars to Indy such as ALMS (American LeMans Series) or maybe even the motorcycles to IMS, to see if those don’t grab more fans then F-1. I seriously doubt it would, but it would be a way to make the fans like the speedway more.

What if I was a F-1 official? I would require Michelin to refund the fans money and “dock” them tire constructor points and take away any points that the teams won by not racing. (positions 7 and 8 on the finishing order) Also, make a rule change, If tires are found to be unsafe to race, ALL teams will be aloud an extra set of tires. Changes to the track will not be aloud once the first lap of practice had been completed.

Anyone else have comments about my comments or have different ways of handling the situation?

They could have just made it into a drifting competition. :smiley:

I agree with Kyle45 that Ferrari should be looked down upon and that the Michelin teams should have been better prepared or should not show up at all.

Drifting competition sounds like an awesome idea. Unfortunately it is not allowed in F1 rules.

I didn’t see the race and don’t follow these things too closely – I’m often to busy racing on my XBox to care. :slight_smile:

That said, it seems to me like the problem with the Michelin tires was a manufacturer’s defect and not the fault of the teams using said tires. In that instance, I’d compare it to a FIRST team receiving bad radio signals during a competition. There’s a reasonable expectation for third party providers – in these instances, Michelin and IFI – to produce a product free of defects and in accordance with a preexisting agreement or contract. Should that third party fail to provide such product – especially in an event where the third party is sanctioned by the governing body, i.e., FIA or FIRST, accomodations should be made in good faith to best ensure a fair, competitive end to an event.

If another team had no radio throughout a match, would your FIRST team concede to playing again or would you demand your victory and move on?

Nice point, but a F-1 car costs multi-millions. Also, F-1 has the rule of NO tire changes, FIRST doesn’t have a rule of no RC changes, so I wouldn’t see a huge deal. F-1 also does not promote gracious professionalism. They are “tough nosed” competitors. When I went to IMS last year for F-1 quals, David Coultard wrecked, McLaren built a wall of tires in front of their garage so NOBODY could see in…now if a FIRST bot would break you would see TONS of people from different teams getting in on helping out. My main point with this is, FIA and F-1 are nothing like FIRST…I can see how you can compare the two…F-1 teams make money for winning…lots of money. So I honestly don’t blame them…Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi teams did nothing wrong while competing in the USGP, they came to do a job and they did it…14 other teams did not…

From the “one more thing dept.”:

Gracious Professionalism is alive and well at teams Minardi and Jordan. Both of these Bridgestone-shod teams were willing to accept a compromise to allow all teams to compete. To put this in context, Minardi is a small, underfunded team which usually qualifies at the back of the pack and seldom finishes in the points and Jordan, thought successful in the past, has been struggling in the mid to rear of the field the last couple of years. These teams had a lot to gain by running without the Michelin teams, but still voted for putting on a show for the fans. I guess you could say these two teams were the real winners, since they exhibited gracious professionalism and got to finish in the top 6.

I think this whole schmazzle is a good (bad?) example of the kind of conflict between G.P. and business and personal interests that can arise, and how there may not be one “right” way to deal with the conflict.

And BTW, I agree that Ferrari made the “correct” business decision - I just think it would have been classier for them to side with the fans.

I felt that the FIA made the correct decision. If someone shows up to a race and thier tire choice was wrong, and they cant race, then they the show goes on.

I dont think that the tire companies or FIA should reimburse the fans either. Its just how racing goes, if there was a huge reck on turn one and 12 racers were taken out the race would continue.

I found it kind of ironic that michelin had tire problems since they have been dominating the season, and bridgestone has been doing pretty aweful. I think that the tire rules for this year have been aweful, especially seen 2 races ago when the leader lost on the last lap because his tire had a flat spot and broke the car. Granted they could design this into the cars, but i mean common they could at least let them have 2 sets of tires.

I feel that the FIA did make the correct descision. and I had to agree with that second point about Bridgstone Making the fall of Ferrari.

Would it be fair to mess up a teams chances of winning because they were prepared. Rules are rules. I can see why ferrari didn’t want the Chicane. Plus, I mean look at Ferrari, if FIA had more GP, Ferrari would have some tires that they could run with and win with because they would have dropped Michelin after the first or second race, and picked up Bridgstone, but rules are rules, That is for another debate. But I do believe that the FIA made the correct descision. I also believe that the fans should recieve some reimbursement from Michelin.

Michelin has made their decision . Attached is a pic of a cartoon that was in the June 21st edition of the Indianapolis Star. For the newest updates referring to the F-1 fiasco please visit http://www.formula1.com for any updates.



I just heard this on the news, Michelin will refund ALL tickets. Great job on their part!

Wow. That is very surprising to me. I am glad the fans got their money back, but I mean come on. I fully believe that Bridgestone should hav ben doing the refunding. They are th ones who came unprepared.

Bridgestone was the one who brought the right tire…all 6 of their cars started…Michelin had 0 of 14 cars start, so I am not surprised at all, but I think you just had your tire makers backwards.

It’s good to here that Michelin has decided to refund tickets. I hear that it’s going to be somewhere in the ballpark of $13million dollars. It should also be interesting to see how Michelin (or whoever) is going to implement such a large refund program, since I’m pretty sure this has never been done in the sports/entertainment area.