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.)