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Grand Farce
June 19, 2005 5:14 PM   Subscribe

U.S. GP starts and ends in farce
In what could very well be the last Formula One race in the USA, the United States Grand Prix turned to farce yesterday when the vast majority of the grid (14 cars), shod with Michelin tyres, aborted their race after the formation lap and pulled into their garages, leaving the six cars shod with Bridgestone tyres to start and finish the race.
posted by tomcosgrave (105 comments total)

 
Can someone please post Danica Patrick's phone number? I have to talk to her about something. TIA.
posted by jsavimbi at 5:25 PM on June 19, 2005


I don't follow GP racing. Doesn't (Bridgestone) Firestone make racing tires anymore?
posted by alumshubby at 5:26 PM on June 19, 2005


They do, alumshubby - the six cars that started the race were shod with Bridgestones. It's the other tyre company in Formula One that caused the problem...
posted by tomcosgrave at 5:43 PM on June 19, 2005


That is a shame. Clearly the FIA and Michelin should have been able to get to a compromise so that all the cars could have run the race.

When I was younger I saw the Phoenix Grand Prix. It totally kicked ass over the USian driving in a big circle races.
posted by birdherder at 5:47 PM on June 19, 2005


A plan to deliver an alternative tyre design to Indianapolis was shelved when the FIA indicated that penalties awaited any teams who changed tyres after qualifying.

Wow, I'm glad they instituted that rule this year. It's really made the races more interesting.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:51 PM on June 19, 2005


I think racing is sort of Meh, but I find this story interesting.
posted by drezdn at 5:52 PM on June 19, 2005


Having been watching the entire weekends coverage of the race, I was tempted to post this myself...I was a bit too furious to do so tho...

The F1 forums around the world are on fire tonight...people blaming Michelin, the FIA and Ferrari. I'll hold my tongue for now...just thought y'all should get some more link mileage out of this. My fav link, The First Batch Of Your Very, Very Angry E-Mails...
btw, don't hate Ferrari!!!
posted by gren at 5:53 PM on June 19, 2005


You forgot the "O". It's GOP.
posted by orthogonality at 5:55 PM on June 19, 2005


Granted, I don't follow F1 at all, but this seems to me like a bunch of whining on the part of Michelin and the drivers who use their tires.

It appears to me as though Michelin supplied inadequate equipment for the course, and, when they discovered this, tried to get the course changed to suit their equipment.

When the governing body said "Um, no," all the Michelin drivers said, in effect, "Well, screw you guys, we're taking our toys and going home."

However, I'm coming at this without ANY understanding of the politics of F1 racing. Someone from outside the US please explain to me why this isn't just a bunch of millionaires moaning about how unfair life is.
posted by dersins at 5:56 PM on June 19, 2005


It's unfortunate that it happened this way, but I would rather they not start the race than have drivers crash and possibly face severe injury.
I went to the one of the last decent Formula One races at Long Beach in California. It was really incredible to see these cars bulleting along going the wrong way on a one way street marked for 35mph at close to 200 mph. I remember a friend and I had lunch at an italian restaurant right next to the course and we could look past the barriers a few feet away and see the cars skitter explode out of a left hand corner at the bottom of a hill, race up to the top and jerk right seemingly close enough to touch. I'll never forget that. Pasta, wine and F1. La Te Da. Oh, I met Jackie Stewart too. Funny question I asked him: "What's it like to be rich?" Reply: "I get to sleep late."
posted by mk1gti at 6:01 PM on June 19, 2005


Instead Michelin asked for a chicane to be added at the flat-out, banked turn 13, the critical corner for tyre wear.

WTF is a chicane?
posted by Brian James at 6:12 PM on June 19, 2005


It's the typeface that Michelin uses on the tire wall.
posted by Rothko at 6:13 PM on June 19, 2005


...all the Michelin drivers said, in effect, "Well, screw you guys, we're taking our toys and going home."

well - realistically, what should they have done, risk severe injury? You make it sound like they were being spoiled brats... weren't they just abiding by basic safety standards, given the circumstances?
posted by mdn at 6:13 PM on June 19, 2005


WTF is a chicane?

It's a kink in the straight on the course. They look like this or this.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:21 PM on June 19, 2005


A chicane (in this case) is an obstruction used to slow down cars moving on the track - in this case it would have been a wall of tyres. The problem that the Michelin tyres were having would have been avoided had this been done, as the final turn is taken at a high speed that caused too much pressure to build on the tyres, causing them to blow out, which was seen to happen on Friday, the result being a nasty high-speed collsion with the wall.

The Michelin equipped teams are not to blame here. Michelin are to blame, followed very much by the FIA, who, in the interests of the event, the sport in the USA and of course, the people who make the sport what it is (ie, the people who pay hard earned money to watch at the track, and the people watching on TV at home that make sponsorship of the teams worthwhile) should have imposed the chicane.
posted by tomcosgrave at 6:24 PM on June 19, 2005


I hate that people are blaming Ferrari for this. This is Michelin's fault. I was disappointed by the fiasco too but good on Bridgestone and the 3 teams on those tyres for doing their job.
posted by riffola at 6:29 PM on June 19, 2005


It appears to me as though Michelin supplied inadequate equipment for the course, and, when they discovered this, tried to get the course changed to suit their equipment.

No, they first offered to replace the equipment, but the governing body refused to allow this, even though the drivers were willing to take penalty points after the race.
posted by delmoi at 6:34 PM on June 19, 2005


The only option the drivers on michelin tires was to A) voluntarily slow down at that corner, while the other drivers blew past it, B) Not Race or C) Risk their lives and try to make the turn at high speed. B seems pretty reasonable.
posted by delmoi at 6:36 PM on June 19, 2005


I have a big problem with a "sport" that basically one guy owns.
posted by scruss at 6:38 PM on June 19, 2005


mdn : well - realistically, what should they have done, risk severe injury? You make it sound like they were being spoiled brats... weren't they just abiding by basic safety standards, given the circumstances?

Part of my response to that is "I don't know, that's why I was asking someone to explain the politics of the situation to me."

The other part of my response is that the article clearly implied that they could have switched to safer tires, if willing to accept a "penalty," which penalty, I assume would have been a time- or lap- penalty. Seems to me that would have been a significantly more grownup course of action for the teams using Michelin tires, but, again, I'm not familiar with the politics of the situation. Certainly, it would have been less of a "fuck you" to the people who'd paid to attend the race.
posted by dersins at 6:38 PM on June 19, 2005


Delmoi : No, they first offered to replace the equipment, but the governing body refused to allow this, even though the drivers were willing to take penalty points after the race.

If that were the case, then I would certainly never call them "whiners." But I'm a little confused by the fact that the article says:

"A plan to deliver an alternative tyre design to Indianapolis was shelved when the FIA indicated that penalties awaited any teams who changed tyres after qualifying."

And that pretty much implies to me that, rather than offering to take a penalty, the teams in question refused to take one, and instead chose not to race.
posted by dersins at 6:48 PM on June 19, 2005


The FIA totally dropped the ball here. Any arrangement -- even having the Michelin cars start from the pits -- would have been better than this idiotic disgrace. The results of this race are tainted, and if we end up in a situation where Schumacher wins the drivers' championship by less than 10 points his title will be very tainted indeed.

This might even be the blow that resurrects the idea of an alternate Grand Prix circuit.
posted by clevershark at 6:49 PM on June 19, 2005


Of all the places for something like this to happen, you'd think that at one of the highest-attended F1 races, in a place where F1 has been historically shaky but seemed to be getting solid support again, at a venue owned by a flighty dick who has a history of taking his toys and going home, in a race being broadcast at prime-time in Europe, you *really* would want to make sure you actually put a show on. But penny-wise and pound-foolish, that's F1.

On the other hand, the Indianapolis track has been there for nearly a hundred years, and cars have been taking corner after 230mph corner there for decades. You'd think that building a tire that can take *one* banked corner would be less than rocket science at this point, even if the track had been resurfaced.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:56 PM on June 19, 2005


I didn't bother to check out the various F1 forums that are doubless boiling over with angst towards Ferrari. However, I'd venture to guess that the theory is that Ferrari pressured the FIA to forbid Michelin from substituting the tires because, even with the penalties, Ferrari thought that they may not be able to beat the teams on the improved Michelins. A lot of people believe that the FIA and Ecclestone (the guy who "owns" the sport) are usually pretty eager to make decisions that favor Ferrari, by far the most popular team in the sport (and maybe all of sport). I haven't been following F1 this season, but it seems like the Michelin teams are dominating - Ferrari probably saw this as a chance to get an easy victory.
posted by mullacc at 6:58 PM on June 19, 2005


Whoops. After reading the article again, I think I should have said that Ferrari pressured the FIA not to allow the addition of a chicane. Either way, my point is that F1 followers probably suspect Ferrari of using their clout with the FIA to earn an easy win.
posted by mullacc at 7:03 PM on June 19, 2005


Mullac:

Thanks for the explanation of the politics involved.
posted by dersins at 7:05 PM on June 19, 2005


Oops. "Mullacc," not "Mullac." Sorry.
posted by dersins at 7:06 PM on June 19, 2005


It's really a cascade of faults.

Michelin started the whole mess by somehow failing to supply tires that would survive one lousy, 6-degree banked turn (a turn that F1 have been racing on for the previous 5 years...hello?)

But the FIA (Max Mosely specifically), once faced with the spectre of a 6-car F1 farce, er, race, really should have bent a little and done something to accomodate the teams and put on a proper show. To allow what finally transpired was shoddy management, at best.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:19 PM on June 19, 2005


Here's Wikipedia's entry for Bernie Ecclestone, who some folks are saying bears responsibility for not being more honest with fans about the problem. One angry fan says, "Although we all knew there was a problem from Friday Bernie kept coming on and saying 'don't worry the race will go on'.... He was right but proved to be a liar at the same time.. He knew he was egging us on...." Another in the same thread says officials "put their best face forward so as not to scare off fans buying tickets at the gate." If true, that's pretty low.

At last, the best of the web has been found.

It's an odd story involving the politics of a sport I'm guessing not a lot of folks here know about. Sure, it would've been better with links to more data about Formula One, the folks involved, or the forums gren added, to fill out the news link, but the subject itself is clearly worthy of a post. What's your beef?
posted by mediareport at 7:20 PM on June 19, 2005


Chicane.
posted by ericb at 7:29 PM on June 19, 2005


I wonder what this will do to the prospects of adding an F1 race in Las Vegas. Hurt them, for the obvious reasons, or help them because Indy has shown that an F1 race can do reasonably well in the US. Does anyone know what kind of race the Vegas people were considering? Another parking-lot travesty, or a proper track?

Part of me really wishes they could get another fun street race going somewhere cool. Sure, there's no passing at Monaco, and it's slow, but there's something about watching the cars race with hotels and apartments and such in the background that makes it seem so much faster than another road course in more-or-less open land. I'd love to see snarling race cars blowing down Constitution Avenue at 200+ and taking a turn around the Jefferson Memorial, or going down the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue, or racing in Niagara across the bridges with the falls in the background.

At Vegas, it would be cool if they could have *mostly* a proper track that linked to the Strip as its major straight.

Or just send them to Laguna Seca. I'd buy pay-per-view to watch F1 cars take the corkscrew.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:33 PM on June 19, 2005


On the other hand, the Indianapolis track has been there for nearly a hundred years, and cars have been taking corner after 230mph corner there for decade

And they get to practice this, frequently. Bridgestone, as Firestone, supplies tires to Indy. Michelin, however, does not.

A few facts.

1) There is exactly one banked corner in the entire F-1 season. Turn 13, USGP, Indianapolis.

2) The fastest speeds that F-1 cars achieve in competition? Between Turns 12 and 13, USGP, Indianapolis.

3) Indy may have been around for 100 years, but the track isn't even a year old. Indy was just rebuilt -- new surface, new walls, and after the winter, the entire raceway was "diamond ground" smooth -- but with grooves. This is a new, very abrasive surface. Tire wear this year at Indy was markedly higher.

4) The only grooved track in F-1 is...

So, here's Ralf Schumacher, whipping around in a Toyota on Friday, and, all of a sudden, he's into the wall at Turn 13. Why? Tire went flat. Why? The team doesn't know, and can't figure it out. They call Michelin.

Michelin says "We don't know, either. This really bothers us. That tire failed, and we cannot tell you why." They examine other tires, and come to a very quick realization: The tires they've provided not only aren't competitive, but, with the forces at turn 13, they're dangerous. The sidewalls can't handle the twisting force caused by the speed, the bank, and the abrasive surface -- none of which they'll encounter for the rest of the season.

So, they go to FIA, and say "We've got bum tires. These tires can kill. Can we replace them?"

Answer: No. In one of the MOST FUCKED RULE CHANGES EVAR, in F-1, you *cannot* change a tire once you qualify, unless the tire is severely damaged or flat -- and since nobody's sure what "severely damaged" means, it really means "trashed." This rule was supposed to encourage passing. How one passes when one's trying to save the tires, I don't know. We've already had three wrecks caused by flat-spotted tires shaking part of the car apart. But, FUCKED RULES are FUCKED RULES, they've qualified on these tires, they'll run on these tires.

Fine. 9 of the 10 teams agree that flying off the track is bad, and bits of tires all over the only banked turn in F-1, at the end of the fastest straight in F-1, is a bad idea. They ask for a chicane -- basically, a little wiggle in the road, to force drivers to slow well before the turn, seriously reducing both the top speed along the straight, and the cornering force.

Ferrari , sensing points, says "No." Michael Schumacher, (who, by the way, has had his brother knocked out of the race by this problem) says he races, thus, Ferrari races, thus, they race, just like the rules say, too bad about the 14 cars who'll either get rammed as they creep along turn 13, or crash as their tires fail.

Michelin, hat in hand, says that they cannot races these tires. They're really sorry, but the tires are not safe -- they've already crashed one car, and that was in a warmup lap. They will fail during the race. FIA has forbidden them from replacing the tires. There's nothing more they can do, other than remove the tires from competition.

Now, there are *huge* penalties in F-1 if you fail to enter a race. So, seven teams do what they have to do. They enter the grid, run the parade lap (thus, they've entered the race.) They then retire, along with their bum tires.

Schumacher wins. Amazingly, he almost drove his partner off the course -- an action that would have black-flagged any other driver, but Schumacher is another category.

So, who's wrong:

1) Michelin, for fucking up the tires. But I give them a bunch of credit. They've basically destroyed their chances of ever making race tires again, and why? Because they realized they had provided unsafe tires, and they decided to tell the teams "No. We take full responsibility, but these tires cannot be used safely on this track." Morally, Michelin is right -- way too many people have died because someone screwed up, provided something unsafe, and wouldn't stand up and admit it.

2) FIA, for refusing to in any way compromise to allow a safe 20 car race. In doing so, they've destroyed F-1 in America -- something they'd worked hard to try and establish.

A simple compromise of "Yes, you can have new tires, but you'll start at the back of the grid" would have been enough. But even that was too much. So, we have this.

Amusingly enough, it's yet another clusterfuck with Tony George in the picture. Good luck getting refunds.
posted by eriko at 7:41 PM on June 19, 2005 [1 favorite]


This is 100% Michelin's fault.

And I say that not only as a life-long fan of racing in general, and F1 in particular, and as someone who for the past year and a half worked in the racing industry, but Michelin screwed the pooch on this one big time.

They KNEW going in that this was going to be a tough track on tires. All Michelin equipped teams had an opportunity to run an open test at Indy.

Who showed up?

TWO guys: Filipe Massa from Sauber and Anthony Davidson (the Friday 3rd driver for BAR).

Michelin could have played it safe, but they decided to push the engineering envelope and they brought a tire that couldn't last. They could have done their home work (like Bridgestone had), but no, they didn't.

In short, they brought the wrong tires to the race.

Rather than take penalties, the teams could have started on these tires, immediately come into the pits and changed, OR they could have changed before the race, but Michelin COULDN'T fly in tires because THEY ONLY MADE ENOUGH OF THE CRAPPY COMPOUND TIRES. Michelin gambled, they thought this particular compound would work, and they were wrong, wrong, wrong.

When it became obvious that they were caught out, they in effect said, 'move the goal posts, or we're going home'.

The FIA didn't, and the Michelin teams quit.

The really bad thing about all this is that it's a PR nightmare of enormous proportions.

Karl Rove couldn't spin this.
posted by Relay at 7:48 PM on June 19, 2005


Here is a viral advert for bridgestone tires featuring a very depressed dog .
posted by hortense at 7:53 PM on June 19, 2005


Snipped, but:

1) There is exactly one banked corner in the entire F-1 season. Turn 13, USGP, Indianapolis.
2) The fastest speeds that F-1 cars achieve in competition? Between Turns 12 and 13, USGP, Indianapolis.
3) Indy was just rebuilt -- new surface, new walls, and after the winter, the entire raceway was "diamond ground" smooth -- but with grooves.
4) The only grooved track in F-1 is...


And Michelin knew all of these facts well ahead of time, and chose not to build conservatively, or conduct (enough of) their own testing.

It's not like Michelin were only informed of the resurfacing last week, or that the FIA had just changed the track to include the banked corner.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:57 PM on June 19, 2005


scruss: don't his bankers basically own it now?
posted by bonaldi at 8:11 PM on June 19, 2005


Rather than take penalties, the teams could have started on these tires, immediately come into the pits and changed

Nope -- you can't change a tire until it's flat or "severely damaged." A team that drove in after the start and swapped tires would have been knocked out of the race by penalites.

Worse, swap them with what? F-1 doesn't allow many spares.

OR they could have changed before the race, but Michelin COULDN'T fly in tires because THEY ONLY MADE ENOUGH OF THE CRAPPY COMPOUND TIRES. Michelin gambled, they thought this particular compound would work, and they were wrong, wrong, wrong.

Yes. And the reason we know that is they stood up and said they were wrong.

Note that, in 2003, the shoe was on the other foot. You could, at the time, only have one type of wet tire. Bridgeston provided an intermediate wet tread. Michelin provided a full wet tread. In Brazil, the rains came pouring down.

So, of course, the Bridgestone teams were forced to withdraw.

No, wait, they didn't. The race director delayed the start, then sent out the safety car to take laps, judging the track conditions. Amazingly enough, the Safety Car had a tire change -- to the Bridgestone Intermediate tires. So, the race didn't start until the Bridgestone tires were okay. The Michelin guys, with full wets, were ready to go on the hour.

Who made this decision? Charlie Whiting.

Who made the "no change to the track or tires" call this time around? Charlie Whiting.

Amazing, that. How much Bridgestone stock does he own, I wonder?

Supposedly, the FIA keeps making rule changes for safety reasons. The right answer would have been "Fine the fuck out of Michelin, but let them bring safe tires." The FIA answer was "Screw safety, race."

Michelin, to their credit, said "We will not kill these drivers." That's a lot better than many groups I know. Didn't we flay NASA about shuttle launches?

This isn't to say that Michelin didn't screw up badly. They did. They'll pay for it, as well -- I'm willing to bet that come 2006, there will be a single manufacture rule for tires, and it won't be Michelin.

But they could have just come up with some bullshit and let them race. Wonder how many would have died?

Another thing: The Indy Tire Test (which Michelin barely attended) was held before the repolishing/grooving of the track. Thus, data they got there would have been useless. Bridgestone did have a great deal of data from the Indy 500 -- but, for completely unsurprising reasons, didn't share that with Michelin.

Finally: Michelin thought they had a good tire. It wasn't until Friday, with Rolf Schumacher into the wall, that they started to realize that maybe they didn't have good tires, and it wasn't until Saturday that they realized that they had completely and utterly screwed the pooch.

And, of course, they didn't make dozens of tires, because, by the rule changes, you can't bring that many tires to the track. You make only what you can legally bring. Bridgestone certainly didn't make 30 dozen tires for Indy -- the rules allow you, IIRC, six per car of each type.

Mistakes are made. If you keep making them, that's a big mark against you, but for those who are generally competent, it's how you respond when you do fuck up that really tells you about something. Michelin's response: Our tires are not safe on this course -- we must change the tires, the course, or not race, was the correct one, given how unsafe the tires were.

Feel free to flay Michelin over this. Everyone else will. But I'd much rather have someone willing to admit it and take the heat when they screw up making my tires, to be honest.

Because, you know, I remember Bridgestone's big tire catastrophe. I mean, of course "Firestone".
posted by eriko at 8:13 PM on June 19, 2005 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain what Michelin was thinking? Is there some advantage to supplying tires that can't take tougher turns than a particular course? Wouldn't you want tires that exceed what's needed, or would extra grip mean losing speed?

I'll second the sentiment: don't follow racing, but very interesting post. Thanks.
posted by dreamsign at 8:27 PM on June 19, 2005


[removed a "best of the web" snark]
posted by jessamyn at 8:33 PM on June 19, 2005


I thought the brand of tires the teams race on changed with every race and was randomly chosen?

I don't know (and care) fuck about F1 even though I live in the other North-American F1 city.

O, and for the obligatory self link, a game I did for the driver that finished number 5 today[Shockwave], in a car that usually doesn't finish at all. It involves lots of crashes, so probably not suited for Michelin fans.
posted by kika at 8:43 PM on June 19, 2005


Dreamsign: Yes, extra grip means slower speeds. It also means softer tires which don't last as long under hard cornering. Hard cornering (like a banked turn) wears out tires *fast*. Just like on street tires. A tire rated for more mileage will be made of a harder tread compound than one rated for lower mileage. The harder tire will also have less traction, especially during cornering.

As to why Michelin goofed, well...it wasn't entirely their fault. They didn't have access to the course in race trim. They made some engineering decisions based on conditions at that track in previous races. They were wrong. Rather than injure a driver or six and kill a few cars, they admitted their mistake, and said "here's how we can fix it". FIA wouldn't let them ("it's against the rules don'tyouknow") and made the teams running on Michelins pay the price. And very probably killed F1 in the US. Go Bernie! (nevermind that he'd already put his foot in it with his comments about female drivers.)

FWIW, I think the chicane idea was nearly as stupid as not allowing a tire change -- it'd probably have damaged drivers and cars as well, since no one was set up for it, or had marks or any idea of how to drive it.

Kika-- not any more. (Actually, I think it was old-style CART that used to do it that way.)
posted by jlkr at 8:49 PM on June 19, 2005


I don't get why people are blaming Ferrari for this. Ferrari did not say no to the chicane, they rightly said that it is up to the FIA, they would rather not have the chicane but they will do whatever the FIA wants to do. So in effect Ferrari neither supported the chicane nor were against it. It was the FIA that flat out refused the chicane.

As for letting the Bridgestone shod teams take the first six points as offered the Michelin teams, well even then people would be complaining about it being a farce.

Bridgestone shod teams came to the circuit prepared for the race and had no issues, so why penalize them because Michelin screwed up?

All Michelin teams could've raced today by bypassing the Turn 13 by ducking into the pits every lap, sure it would be slow but at least they'd be fighting for *some* points, they didn't do that. They tried to force the FIA's hand but the FIA stuck to the rules, and we ended up with a farce.

Can you imagine how sucky it would've been if the 3 Bridgestone shod teams didn't even bother racing? The fans there would've rioted, they were already rather unruly. The 3 Bridgestone teams did exactly what they went to Indy to do, they raced.

No one but Michelin is to blame for this.
posted by riffola at 9:01 PM on June 19, 2005


eriko, the announcement has already been made to shift to a control tyre for 2008. Michelin may have just lost some points in that bidding war ...

While Michelin is clearly the root cause of this debacle, pretty much everyone has played a part in making this race even more of a farce than f1 races usually are. The drivers could have have raced within the limits of the cars, but chose not to. The teams (and Michelin) could have chosen to accept a penalty for changing tyres, but chose not to. The FIA could have changed the track, but chose not too (and I applaud their decision). Basically, it seems that the Michelin teams spat the dummy out and threw down an ultimatum and, when they were told to go fuck themselves, couldn't back out without looking stupid, so let their egos rule.

I feel sorry for the fans who paid big bucks to see this.
posted by dg at 9:03 PM on June 19, 2005


I don't know squat about any of this, but this thread has still been really interesting. Damn fine work, people.
posted by Cyrano at 9:15 PM on June 19, 2005


Michelin didn't deliver the right tires, but it's the FIA's sole reason of existence to deal with this sort of a situation in a way that will benefit the sport. It failed to do that miserably.

I wouldn't rush out to book rooms for next year's US Grand Prix, if you get my drift.
posted by clevershark at 9:37 PM on June 19, 2005


Second that cyrano. Sensible measured responses when I expected rantings of a bunch of petrol-head boys at home in their underpants.
posted by marvin at 9:49 PM on June 19, 2005


Wow, I'm glad they instituted that rule this year. It's really made the races more interesting.

I completely agree with this sarcasm.

Michelin did the right thing. In this sport, manufacturers are constantly designing things on the razor's edge of safety for the sake of performance. This is neither new, nor surprising. They were upfront and honest about the situation when they discovered it, which probably saved lives.

The drivers did the right thing, too. If the tires couldn't be changed, the race would be pointless, as all the Michelin-clad cars wouldn't really be racing the same circuit as the Bridgestones. Oh, to the untrained eye they would, save for the fact that all their drivers were for some strange reason taking it easy at one turn, which cost them all the race. What's the point?

The FIA could have evened up the difference in tires very easily, yet refused. I suppose their argument was that the Michelin drivers would, in the face of stiff competition, simply choose safety for themselves and slow down for the turn instead of competing to win. Right. The FIA would have happily risked the lives of the drivers as long as it didn't hurt their bottom line, so fuck them.

Any drivers blaming Michelin need to ask themselves who cares about your safety more? The tire manufacturer that first recognized the problem and brought it to everyone's attention--knowing full well what a PR fiasco it would be? Or the FIA, who's The Show Must Go On mentality would have kept cars on the track with known problems?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:23 PM on June 19, 2005


"It's the typeface that Michelin uses on the tire wall."
Best. Reply. Ever.
posted by nlindstrom at 10:40 PM on June 19, 2005


Actually, Michelin would not have allowed drivers to race without at least informing them of the dangers because, if they did, they would be up liability creek without an insurance paddle when the mess came out, which it undoubtedly would when multiple identical accidents prompted an investigation.

The FIA was, technically, in a position to even the field easily and did so by allowing teams to change tyres and incur the appropriate penalty. It is not the FIA's fault that Michelin failed in its responsibility to the teams and changing the track so close to the start would have set a very nasty precedent - what happens next time a similar situation comes up? Also, the teams that had tested and set-up for the track as it was would then be disadvantaged by having the wrong set-up for the modified track. The FIA was damned either way. Having been in a position of having to decide whether motorsport events go ahead based on my assessment of prevailing conditions, I can imagine what was going through their heads - it is a huge responsibility that can have ramifications such as the death of drivers. At the end of the day, they did the right thing at not inconsiderable risk to themselves and stuck by the rules that were known and accepted until that time. Really, they had no choice.

I suppose their argument was that the Michelin drivers would, in the face of stiff competition, simply choose safety for themselves and slow down for the turn instead of competing to win.
I have read a couple of Coroner's Reports making it clear that this is not acceptable as defence from officials who use this - the FIA had the ultimate responsibility to decide using their expert knowledge. Plus, it never happens - when that red curtain comes down, all thoughts of safety go out of your mind. Everyone knows that and that is why it is not acceptable.

The blame for this has to rest squarely in Michelin - if they had done their job and supplied useable tyres, the situation would not even have existed and that is where the buck stops.
posted by dg at 10:43 PM on June 19, 2005


I don't get why people are blaming Ferrari for this. Ferrari did not say no to the chicane, they rightly said that it is up to the FIA

Because I don't think that was a matter of "Well, gosh, we have no idea what the FIA is going to say, but whatever they decide, we'll go with that." It was a matter of "The FIA will certainly refuse this without unanimous active support, so we'll pass the buck to avoid bad PR." When asked, Ferrari said "Go ask your mother" to avoid looking like the bad guy.

Not that they should have been required to accede to the demands, or that they're the big bad guys here. On the other hand, I think Ferrari's decision not to agree/push for the chicane was foolish -- those 18 points are going to cost Ferrari a lot of income-stream if F1 leaves the US again as a partial-result of that race.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:20 PM on June 19, 2005


Let's be fair to the FIA here, all rule changes in F1 are voted on by all the teams. They all agreed to the no-tire-change rule.

It's too bad there were only six cars, but F1 is a mechanical sport, so if one of your components isn't working, you have a problem. That's the whole point.

And frankly, there have been more boring races than in the past, and there probably will be in the future...

And besides, it's CAR racing. That's always less interesting than motorcycle racing. Watch a bike race next time :)
posted by Djinh at 11:34 PM on June 19, 2005


Indy may have been around for 100 years, but the track isn't even a year old. Indy was just rebuilt -- new surface, new walls, and after the winter, the entire raceway was "diamond ground" smooth -- but with grooves. This is a new, very abrasive surface. Tire wear this year at Indy was markedly highe

Michelin stated on Saturday that they'd been out to examine the updated track prior to the manufacture of the tires and that they'd simply messed up. They didn't get blind-sided by this, they just fucked up.

In one of the MOST FUCKED RULE CHANGES EVAR, in F-1, you *cannot* change a tire once you qualify, unless the tire is severely damaged or flat -- and since nobody's sure what "severely damaged" means, it really means "trashed." This rule was supposed to encourage passing.

Actually, the rule was part of the effort to slow the cars down (for safety), and force the drivers to save the tires. Under the old rules a driver could mash the throttle or brakes at will, and not pay any significant penalty, with the new rules the driver must actually show some skill.

9 of the 10 teams agree that flying off the track is bad, and bits of tires all over the only banked turn in F-1, at the end of the fastest straight in F-1, is a bad idea. They ask for a chicane -- basically, a little wiggle in the road, to force drivers to slow well before the turn, seriously reducing both the top speed along the straight, and the cornering force.

A "little wiggle" that would've completely changed the nature of the track. Suddenly you wouldn't have to set your car up for that long fast straightaway with the high G load... suddenly turn 1 would be a lousy overtaking spot... this was not a small change, it would've been a drastic change, especially on one day's notice. Suddenly Ferrari would have the wrong tires (overly thick sidewalls, etc) and have been at even more of a disadvantage than is usual this year.

Ferrari , sensing points, says "No." Michael Schumacher, (who, by the way, has had his brother knocked out of the race by this problem) says he races, thus, Ferrari races, thus, they race, just like the rules say, too bad about the 14 cars who'll either get rammed as they creep along turn 13, or crash as their tires fail.

Bullshit. This wasn't Ferrari chasing points, this was Ferrari wanting the Michelen teams to accept a penalty if they were going to change their tires... and to not redraw the track to favor somebody else.

FIA has forbidden them from replacing the tires.

The FIA stated that there would be a penalty assessed for changing the tires. Would starting from the back really have been that bad?

Amazingly, he almost drove his partner off the course -- an action that would have black-flagged any other driver, but Schumacher is another category.

More bullshit. I've seen similar situations several times this year, nobody was ever disqualified for that scenario, it's called racing to the corner. Neither party broke any rules, though I'd guess that Barrichello isn't too pleased.

I was at this race, and I'm more than a bit annoyed... mostly at Michelin.

Nope -- you can't change a tire until it's flat or "severely damaged." A team that drove in after the start and swapped tires would have been knocked out of the race by penalites.

I actually checked the rulebook, and it does not state that you'll be disqualified for breaking this rule. The penalty is unspecified. As such, why not give it a shot and give the race director a chance to make a reasonable decision?
posted by mosch at 11:47 PM on June 19, 2005 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain what Michelin was thinking? Is there some advantage to supplying tires that can't take tougher turns than a particular course? Wouldn't you want tires that exceed what's needed, or would extra grip mean losing speed?

Tires are unsprung weight, and rotating mass. 5 extra pounds on a tire is far more detrimental to handling than 5 pounds nigh anywhere else in the car. As such, if Bridgestone had run on Indy-capable tires, they would've been at a significant disadvantage to a car on Indy-incapable Michelins.
posted by mosch at 11:49 PM on June 19, 2005


Michelin-runners to Ferrari: "We screwed up. How about we change the race to use get rid of the high-speed bits where you have a horsepower related advantage? Oh, and how about you race on tires that are heavier than ours, to disadvantage yourself even further, since this will hurt your handling."

Ferrari to Michelin-runners: "How about you just get the right damned tires?"
posted by mosch at 11:58 PM on June 19, 2005


Plus, it never happens - when that red curtain comes down, all thoughts of safety go out of your mind. Everyone knows that and that is why it is not acceptable.

That was precisely my point, dg. The FIA, knowing full well that the tires were dangerous, should not have allowed drivers to race with them. End of story. Yet they did, knowing full well that the results could have been disasterous.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:10 AM on June 20, 2005


Options for the Michelin runners (according to the FIA):

1) No doubt you will inform your teams what is the maximum safe speed for their cars in turn 13. We will remind them of the need to follow your advice for safety reasons. We will also ask them to ensure their cars do not obstruct other competitors.

(just drive slower there)

2) Some of the teams have raised with us the possibility of running a tire which was not used in qualifying. We have told them this would be a breach of the rules to be considered by the stewards. We believe the penalty would not be exclusion but would have to be heavy enough to ensure that no team was tempted to use qualifying tires in the future.

(accept an unspecified penalty, but run safe tires)

3) “Another possibility would be for the relevant teams repeatedly to change the affected tire during the race. If the stewards were satisfied each change was made because the tire would otherwise fail and the relevant team was not gaining an advantage, there would be no penalty.

(It's possible that this could keep the wear and load low enough on the tire in question to be safe... though the other options seem better)

Regarding the chicane idea, they said:

Finally, it has been suggested (by you) that a chicane should be laid out in turn 13. I am sure you will appreciate this is out of the question. To change the course in order to help some teams with a performance problem caused by their failure to bring suitable equipment to the race would be a breach of the rules and grossly unfair to those teams which have come to Indianapolis with the correct tires.

There was no reason for the Michelin runners to quit altogether. Claiming otherwise is disingenuous bullshit spouted by Ferrari-haters.
posted by mosch at 12:20 AM on June 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


eriko's analysis is brilliant! Anybody with safety critical product in the field knows how hard this kind of decision is...

From Michelin's statement: “Despite all the checks that we've done, both here and in our test facilities in Clermont-Ferrand, we have not been able to understand or reproduce the problem of yesterday.

It sounds like it was a marginal problem, which means that they might have actually gotten away with letting the cars race. Even if some tires failed during the race the odds of a death were probably well under 50%. In that context the stand taken by Michelin, and Michelin's engineers, deserves real praise. They decided not to play russian roulette with other people's lives - good for them!

I find it bizarre how most people here are obsessed with laying blame. These are supposed to be adults, they should have been able to find a solution. The fact that the Michelin teams decided to pull out rather than take the predetermined penalty was pretty childish, but the fact that the FIA wasn't willing to come to any accommodation - like a reduced penalty - is equally infantile.

The only side that acted respectably in the hole fiasco is Michelin! So sure, it was their mistake... I'll take the adult any day.
posted by Chuckles at 12:23 AM on June 20, 2005


I'm sorry for the way this is going to sound mosch, but...

mosch: I was at this race, and I'm more than a bit annoyed... mostly at Michelin.

I can just see the people at Kennedy Space Centre on January 28, 1986 in the alternate reality were the engineers and management at NASA did their jobs. "I'm more than a bit annoyed, mostly at those damned fools who are worried about safety, I drove down to see a launch today."

It is really sad... I would much rather see people push the envelope, but pull back when they notice real problems, than have people too scared to try. The way the reactions are pilling up it looks like I'm very much in the minority.

Anyway, back to mosch: Tires are unsprung weight, and rotating mass.

It is true that unsprung wait is critical, but your reasoning is not correct. The fact that tires rotate is irrelevant (the contact patch is stationary, the opposite patch is moving at 2xspeed of car, the average is the same as the speed of the car). The problem with unsprung wait is suspension related - it is much easier to keep a light tire on the track than a heavy one.

mosch: There was no reason for the Michelin runners to quit altogether. Claiming otherwise is disingenuous bullshit spouted by Ferrari-haters.

This I agree with - except the Ferrari-haters part... It appears that the Michelin teams tried to strong arm the FIA, who knows what the point of that was.
posted by Chuckles at 12:45 AM on June 20, 2005


I didn't want them to race on unsafe tires. I wanted them to switch to safe tires and accept a penalty, or find a way to race safely on their other tires (perhaps by just not flooring it through turn 13, and "racing for second" instead).

There were any number of options which would've been safe, and given fans something to watch. Unfortunately the Michelin teams chose a route which did not give anybody anything to cheer about.

The only winner today was the Bridgestone marketing department.
posted by mosch at 12:53 AM on June 20, 2005


F1? Meh, if you wanted to see an amazing sporting contest then you should have been watching the cricket. Oh those plucky Australians, beaten by the might of England and Bangladesh.

Still, at least they tried. Hijack over, you may now carry on talking about your motor cars.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:07 AM on June 20, 2005


I'm sure that I'm in the minority here, but I've been turned off by the increasingly strict rules in F1. Just about every other race series offers the chance to see drivers compete with relatively equal equipment. I'm more interested in seeing the best machine Ferrari can put on the track versus what BMW/Williams, Toyota, Mercedes, Honda, et al can put on the track. Adding more grooves to the tires, restricting the number of engines, limiting aerodynamics, and reducing electronic controls just make the sport that much less interesting to me.
posted by mullacc at 2:23 AM on June 20, 2005


I didn't want them to race on unsafe tires. I wanted them to switch to safe tires and accept a penalty, or find a way to race safely on their other tires (perhaps by just not flooring it through turn 13, and "racing for second" instead).

Mosch, "not flooring it through turn 13" is simply not an option for racers. Raikkonen and Alonso are in a battle for the world championship. One of them goes 100mph through that corner. The other decides he can get a significant advantage by going 105. So the other then goes 110....until both are going flat out.
posted by salmacis at 2:48 AM on June 20, 2005


We have received your letter of 18 June.

We are very surprised that this difficulty has arisen. As you know, each team is allowed to bring two different types of tyre to an event so as to ensure that a back-up (usually of lower performance) is available should problems occur. It is hard to understand why you have not supplied your teams with such a tyre given your years of experience at Indianapolis.

That the teams you supply are not in possession of such a tyre will also be a matter for the FIA to consider in due course under Article 151c of the International Sporting Code.

No doubt you will inform your teams what is the maximum safe speed for their cars in Turn 13. We will remind them of the need to follow your advice for safety reasons. We will also ask them to ensure their cars do not obstruct other competitors.

Some of the teams have raised with us the possibility of running a tyre which was not used in qualifying. We have told them this would be a breach of the rules to be considered by the stewards. We believe the penalty would not be exclusion but would have to be heavy enough to ensure that no team was tempted to use qualifying tyres in the future.

Another possibility would be for the relevant teams repeatedly to change the affected tyre during the race (we understand you have told your teams the left rear is safe for a maximum of ten laps at full speed). If the technical delegate and the stewards were satisfied that each change was made because the tyre would otherwise fail (thus for genuine safety reasons) and that the relevant team were not gaining an advantage, there would be no penalty. If this meant using tyres additional to a teams’ allocation, the stewards would consider all the circumstances in deciding what penalty, if any, to apply.

Finally, it has been suggested that a chicane should be laid out in Turn 13. I am sure you will appreciate that this is out of the question. To change the course in order to help some of the teams with a performance problem caused by their failure to bring suitable equipment to the race would be a breach of the rules and grossly unfair to those teams which have come to Indianapolis with the correct tyres.

Yours sincerely,

Charlie Whiting
FIA Formula One Race Director
posted by mosch at 3:10 AM on June 20, 2005


salmacis: yes, the best option would've been for the teams to put on safe tires, accept their penalty and move on. Instead they tried to blackmail the FIA.

When this happened in the other direction (see Spain and Malaysia) none of the Michelin teams seemed to think it was unfair to make Ferrari choose between retiring or severe penalties.
posted by mosch at 3:19 AM on June 20, 2005


Very interesting stuff.

(Also, the bit about rotating tires; I think it's quite relevant that they're rotating, it's angular momentum to deal with. An extra 5 lbs rotating at 3600 rpm is not going to help handling.)
posted by blacklite at 3:37 AM on June 20, 2005


Michelin Motorsport Director Pierre Dupasquier:
"We did not talk about the chicane. We said that we had found out that with a lower speed, significantly lower speed, climbing on the oval, we would be totally out of trouble."
posted by mosch at 4:06 AM on June 20, 2005


My favorite moment during the entire, ridiculous, embarrassing but oddly compelling debacle was when Martin Brundle (ex-F1 driver turned commentator) said "If Michael Schumaches does a victory jump on the podium I'm going to personally punch him." This after he suggested that Bernie Ecclestone "needed a slapping" earlier!

Martin Brundle, I saute you.
posted by NeonSurge at 4:35 AM on June 20, 2005


There are too many petty rules in racing. If there were a racing series in which the construction rules were limited essentially to size and weight restrictions, it would be the biggest, richest series in the world. Let people bet on crashes. Let all the cars go as fast as they can for a hundred laps. Then lunch and lewd dancing for the crowd. Then let the top five survivors of the first race go another hundred laps for the actual prize. Then more lewd dancing.

> Martin Brundle, I saute you.

Tasty.
posted by pracowity at 4:39 AM on June 20, 2005


(Note, for space, quotes are trimmed heavily. Please refer to mosch's posting of the entire letter, above, for full quotes.)

1) No doubt you will inform your teams what is the maximum safe speed for their cars in turn 13....
(just drive slower there)

"Hi! We're the race authority, and we want you, for the sake of Making Money In America, to act *just like your racing*, but slow down in turn 13 so you don't die."

Do you really think American race fans, who aren't nearly as stupid as most seem to think about racing, are going to buy this? Do you think the incredibly competitive drivers could do this?

2) Some of the teams have raised with us the possibility of running a tire which was not used in qualifying...

Note the key phrase: "We believe the penalty would not be exclusion but would have to be heavy enough to ensure that no team was tempted to use qualifying tyres in the future."

Charlie "believes" that the penalty wouldn't be exclusion? Really? And, pray tell, if what is going to happen is huge fines, point deductions, and possible death, why race at all? You can't gain anything, you can lose everything. And, hell, maybe you risk all that, and find out that you are DQ'd anyway, or worse, DQ'd from Barcelona as well.

Far better to take the certain 0 points, and not damage the car, than to risk unnamed and unspecified penalties.

If FIA has said "Anyone changing tires will be charged FOO dollars and BAR points, period, unless all teams change." then they could have made a real decision on running or not. But, given what information they had -- the tires they had were unsafe, but if they changed, they had no idea what penalties might accrue, but if they bailed on the parade lap, they'd just get 0 points for the day -- what they did becomes completely understandable.

And this is from Mr. "Wait until the track dries some for Bridgestone" Whiting.

3) “Another possibility would be for the relevant teams repeatedly to change the affected tire during the race...."

And, of course, if the stewards disagree, you've just wasted a bunch of money and time, and you'll get fined for changing tires. Of course, if you don't change them, you may die. Once again, there's no certainity that they're not going to rack up a huge point penalty or be DQ'd if they changed the tires -- or, hell, if they even had enough spares to do so.

The FIA basically told the Michelin teams that they were scrod, deal with it. The teams did just that.

Note that Michelin did *not* ask for the chicane -- the drivers did, wanting to race. Michelin just stated that their tires were bad, and told the teams why, and what parameters they were safe under. Apparently, the tires would have been safe at any other course in the championship.

If FIA had been thinking, they could have had this be a real race, punished Michelin (who did screw up badly) and given a hundred thousand fans a real race. They could have installed the Chicane. They could have allowed (while fining Michelin) the Barcelona tires to be flown over.

Heck, how about this fantasy? They could have said "Hey, Bridgestone, got a few dozen spares?" -- what a coup for FIA and Bridgestone, to say "We'll make sure that you get a race. Here's a bunch of Bridgestones, everybody (including the Bridgestone teams) gets 20 laps on Saturday. The Bridgestone teams, by virute of qualifying under the rules, will be moved to the head of the grid, and will be allowed to change to new tires before the race, putting everyone on new rubber.

If you had another day, you could requalify the other teams for the rest of the grid (shade of the old 4-day Indy qualification) but they didn't. Of course, this whole counterfactual assumes that Bridgestone could have come up with the tires.

Nope. They insisted that the only way the Michelin teams could meaningfully compete Sunday was to do so on tires that would almost certainly fail. This is competition? This is racing? This is safety? Supposedly, all the F-1 rules are in place to foster competition and safety, and yet, FIA and Whiting take a stand that doesn't support either.

Fuck *anyone* who says "I don't care if you get hurt, we've got a show to put on."

BTW: Note who's been winning. Until this moment, Michelin has had very good results with their tires. I'm wondering how much of a neener-neener factor was at play here. Hell, I wish I could play the counterfactual -- what if Ferrari had those tires? Or, what if it was Bridgestone, not Michelin, who had the bum tires?

I know who really got screwed. Wasn't Michelin, wasn't Ferrari, wasn't BE, wasn't even Tony George. It was the nascent F-1 fan in America, who won't be doing that again.

That's why my anger. I agree that Michelin screwed up badly. Michelin will pay for this dearly -- they're going to find that they are tyre non grata in racing for many years, never mind the loss of goodwill. Those thinking that Michelin got away with something are wrong -- they're toast. They're already gone from Indy, they're not a factor in NASCAR, and they'll be pushed out of F-1 shortly.

The thing that grates me is how many other people did the worst thing possible, in order to ensure everybody with an interest was "protected" -- except, of course, Joe Schmoe who dropped ~$100 a seat, plus travel and lodging, to see a parade of two competitive cars and four badgers.

F-1 should be thankful they pulled this at Indy. We only throw things.
posted by eriko at 4:53 AM on June 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


F-1 should be thankful they pulled this at Indy. We only throw things.

Holy crap, I never thought of that. Imagine the carnage if this had happened at Imola or Monza (or even Silverstone.)

> Martin Brundle, I saute you.

Tasty.


Doh! Damn spell check. Oh wait...
posted by NeonSurge at 5:01 AM on June 20, 2005


"Every possibility for the race to go ahead in a safe manner was explored. The only practical solution was for a chicane to be installed prior to Turn 13 and nine of the teams were prepared to run under these conditions even forgoing championship points"

This from the release made by the team principals of the seven teams who did not run. The chicane was their idea not Michelin's. The Michelin runners were prepared to not score any points to "pay" for the addition of the chicane and to ensure that folks who flew in from points across both South and North America didn't go home without seeing a race.

Michelin made a bad mistake. Their response? "We made a bad mistake." Which is a refreshing one in sport, especially as those words were probably signing their own F1 execution order.

Michelin broke the Grand Prix. Without question. However, the FIA's inability to find the glue to stick it back together again doesn't say much for their abilities.

Paul Stoddart, the Minardi team principal, (one of the three Bridgestone teams), has this to say :

"I sincerely hope that valuable lessons are taken away from here today before we destroy the sport we love with politics. A solution, which would have allowed the United States Grand Prix to have proceeded unaffected today existed, but was resisted by the FIA and not supported by Ferrari, who claimed it was not their problem."
posted by Mr Bismarck at 5:24 AM on June 20, 2005


Nunc est bibendum ("Now is the time to drink")
posted by kika at 7:34 AM on June 20, 2005


Pretty much sums it up:

"Rubens Barrichello followed a similar logic: “There were races this year, such as Barcelona [in which Schumacher had two consecutive tire deflations] in which we didn’t have the appropriate tire,” he told Brazilian TV channel Globo. “Do you think the [Michelin] teams would have granted us a chicane there? It was our fault and we had to live with it.”

Michelin sporting director Pierre Dupasquier admitted to Autosport-Atlas that his company had “screwed up,” but not when it came to the boycott. Michelin’s only mistake, according to the Frenchman, was not to bring an adequate tire to IMS.

(One can pretty much assume that the high heads at the company's Clermont-Ferrand headquarters aren't wondering at this very moment whether Michelin's image wouldn't have taken a smaller hit if its teams had simply slowed down through Turn 13 and lost fair and square to Ferrari... Especially if Schumacher/Barrichello, Bridgestone and the Scuderia end up winning this year's championships by a tight margin. Dow Jones reported Michelin stock was down 1.3 percent this Monday).

Many from the Michelin teams' camps attempted to shift the burden to Ferrari, as the Italian squad was the only one to, in an emergency Sunday morning "Crisis Meeting", refused to accept the chicane idea, thus finally sealing the USGP’s fate. But even polesitter Jarno Trulli, of the Toyota team - which was in the heart of the debacle’s origins, as its driver Ralf Schumacher suffered a heavy crash on Turn 13 Friday - conceded the Scuderia was simply playing by the rules.

"I think we cannot claim Ferrari as the guilty party," he admitted. "Ferrari was right where they expected the rules were clear from the race director. That's the rules. If you cannot race, you do not race."

http://www.speedtv.com/articles/auto/formulaone/17712/
posted by Relay at 8:10 AM on June 20, 2005


Eriko: You have so many facts wrong it's almost funny. Almost.

Do you really think American race fans, who aren't nearly as stupid as most seem to think about racing, are going to buy this? Do you think the incredibly competitive drivers could do this?

I've said numerous times what I thought the best solution was, but this was, like it or not, a viable method that would've been less of a PR nightmare than the current scenario.

Charlie "believes" that the penalty wouldn't be exclusion? Really? And, pray tell, if what is going to happen is huge fines, point deductions, and possible death, why race at all? You can't gain anything, you can lose everything. And, hell, maybe you risk all that, and find out that you are DQ'd anyway, or worse, DQ'd from Barcelona as well.

Far better to take the certain 0 points, and not damage the car, than to risk unnamed and unspecified penalties.


Huge fines aren't scaring McLaren, BMW, Honda or Toyota. An absurd hypothetical penalty like exclusion from another race... after the race director has basically said that exclusion wouldn't occur at all would reflect horridly on the FIA. It just wouldn't happen.

These decisions have traditionally been made after the cars were on track and racing, and this would not have been the first time a car went out with a known rule violation and then simply waited to find out what their penalty was. Charlie Whiting was the person who would be assessing the penalty, so when he says "we believe the penalty would not be exclusion", you can bet your ass the penalty is not going to be exclusion.

The drivers race to finish first, the sponsors race to advertise. None of these things can happen if they don't race.

And this is from Mr. "Wait until the track dries some for Bridgestone" Whiting.

You mean the race where MS took a gamble and qualified on wets and the rest of the field did not... and then the entire field was allowed to change tires anyway... but Bridgestone was given some extra time to switch from intermediates to full wets?

Yeah, that was totally unfair... assuming of course that you forget most of the story.

They could have installed the Chicane. They could have allowed (while fining Michelin) the Barcelona tires to be flown over.

The chicane is a farce. Do you really believe that having drivers race on a newly changed track, with a hastily designed chicane, would be safe? Besides, a chicane would punish the cars who had brought the right equipment. But you don't care about that, because you're a Ferrari-hater.

And the tires were allowed to be used, the FIA simply said that the teams would face a penalty for breaking the rules. Nothing prohibited the teams from doing it, except their desire to blackmail the FIA into doin things their way or not at all.

If you had another day, you could requalify the other teams for the rest of the grid (shade of the old 4-day Indy qualification) but they didn't.

Lots of things could have been done if Michelin and their teams didn't wait until Saturday night to start negotiating, in their attempts to strong-arm the FIA. The problem was discovered on Friday, and confirmed before qualifying began on Saturday.

Nope. They insisted that the only way the Michelin teams could meaningfully compete Sunday was to do so on tires that would almost certainly fail.

No, the FIA said that if they changed tires (which is against the rules) there would be a penalty, and that penalty would not be exclusion.

Fuck *anyone* who says "I don't care if you get hurt, we've got a show to put on."

Perhaps the only point we agree on.

what if it was Bridgestone, not Michelin, who had the bum tires?

That has happened twice this year. Each time the Bridgestone's raced as long as they could and then retired. The Michelen teams didn't offer to install any chicanes for them.
posted by mosch at 10:17 AM on June 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


Look, supposed it happened like this:

Suppose the New York Yankees showed up to a baseball game (a World Series game even) and said to MLB & the umps

"Uh, sorry, but we brought the wrong bats. All we got with us is wiffle bats. So we say, you either change the rules and make the other team use wiffle bats, or we're going home."

The league makes the rules, and the umps enforce the rules.

The team has to bring the right equipment.

If they don't, it's their own fault, and nobody else's.

The same applys to Michelin in this case. They had the resources of the world largest tire company, as well as their considerable knowledge-base of racing related data. They had the opportunity to test.

More importantly, Michelin had the opportunity to play it SAFE and they didn't. They brought the fast, yet less-robust, tire compound and it caved (literally) under the pressure.
posted by Relay at 11:10 AM on June 20, 2005


That only makes sense if MLB had a rule that you could only use the bats you brought to the game, and the Yankees asked if they could switch bats, and then they asked if they could be pitched wiffle balls, and then when both of those were denied they went ahead with the game, but none of their batters ever took a swing.

Then it would be something like what happened. Almost.
posted by limbostar at 12:26 PM on June 20, 2005


"Uh, sorry, but we brought the wrong bats. All we got with us is wiffle bats. So we say, you either change the rules and make the other team use wiffle bats, or we're going home."

Well, in the chicane situation, the teams with the bad tyres would not have gotten points, only the Bridgestone teams. So, continuing your analogy, the Yankees would say: "OK, we can't play, so you win, but let's play a game of wiffle ball so at least the fans have something to watch". Of course, it's not as simple as that and I for one think that Ferrari was well within it's rights in not accepting the chicane.
Michelin's screw-up did cause the debacle, but I do think other parties could also have handled things so that they would have ended better for the fans. But it's also quite easy to understand why everybody did things the way they did. Especially FIA playing it by the book. It was definitely a fair race, but not an interesting one.
posted by lazy-ville at 12:34 PM on June 20, 2005


"They (Ferrari) were totally innocent in this affair entirely," (Sir Frank) Williams told Reuters. "They had no reason not to race."
posted by riffola at 12:57 PM on June 20, 2005


Excellent thread, guys. Thanks for shedding light on a topic that is beyond me.
posted by graventy at 1:28 PM on June 20, 2005


Latest communique from F1:

"Formula One is a sporting contest. It must operate to clear rules. These cannot be negotiated each time a competitor brings the wrong equipment to a race.

At Indianapolis we were told by Michelin that their tyres would be unsafe unless their cars were slowed in the main corner. We understood and among other suggestions offered to help them by monitoring speeds and penalising any excess. However, the Michelin teams refused to agree unless the Bridgestone runners were slowed by the same amount. They suggested a chicane.

The Michelin teams seemed unable to understand that this would have been grossly unfair as well as contrary to the rules. The Bridgestone teams had suitable tyres. They did not need to slow down. The Michelin teams’ lack of speed through turn 13 would have been a direct result of inferior equipment, as often happens in Formula One. It must also be remembered that the FIA wrote to all of the teams and both tyre manufacturers on June 1, 2005, to emphasise that “tyres should be built to be reliable under all circumstances”.

A chicane would have forced all cars, including those with tyres optimised for high-speed, to run on a circuit whose characteristics had changed fundamentally – from ultra-high speed (because of turn 13) to very slow and twisting. It would also have involved changing the circuit without following any of the modern safety procedures, possibly with implications for the cars and their brakes. It is not difficult to imagine the reaction of an American court had there been an accident (whatever its cause) with the FIA having to admit it had failed to follow its own rules and safety procedures.

The reason for this debacle is clear. Each team is allowed to bring two types of tyre: one an on-the-limit potential race winner, the other a back-up which, although slower, is absolutely reliable. Apparently, none of the Michelin teams brought a back-up to Indianapolis. They subsequently announced they were flying in new tyres from France but then claimed that these too were unsafe.

What about the American fans? What about Formula One fans world-wide? Rather than boycott the race the Michelin teams should have agreed to run at reduced speed in turn 13. The rules would have been kept, they would have earned Championship points and the fans would have had a race. As it is, by refusing to run unless the FIA broke the rules and handicapped the Bridgestone runners, they have damaged themselves and the sport.

It should also be made clear that Formula One Management and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as commercial entities, can have no role in the enforcement of the rules."
posted by mosch at 2:11 PM on June 20, 2005


One other note about tires, on June 2 the FIA put out a communique stating that tires must last the race distance safely and that they would black flag cars whose tires were not safe.

So... a month and a half ago the tire manufacturers were given a reminder "make sure you have safe tires available", and Michelin still screwed the pooch.
posted by mosch at 2:23 PM on June 20, 2005


That F1 communiqué is sheer bovine manure. If the Michelin teams had run with reduced speeds, it would have been as much of a sham as the race without them was. Only that, in addition, they'd have been risking lives and cars. If the (recent, and very controversial) rules prevented a tyre change, and if their setups were dangerous, the only reasonable option was not to race. Even if the option of changing the tyres and taking a penalty had been available, it would have been stupid to do it without knowing what the penalty would be, especially as most of those teams were already in open conflict with Ecclestone and Mosley.
Yes, Michelin fucked up. But so did FIA both when it introduced that stupid rule and when it enforced it so ham-fistedly. The difference is that Michelin has been gracious enough to admit its mistake and FIA hasn't.
posted by Skeptic at 2:30 PM on June 20, 2005


Skeptic: Did you consider the Spanish Grand Prix a sham, when Ferrari had to race at reduced speeds?
posted by mosch at 2:49 PM on June 20, 2005


Chicanery.
posted by pracowity at 2:53 PM on June 20, 2005


"They (Ferrari) were totally innocent in this affair entirely," (Sir Frank) Williams told Reuters. "They had no reason not to race."

Yup. The new tire rule (like several other new rules) was a rule designed to help break Ferrari's dominance of the sport. It's a bit ironic that Ferrari was now the team profiting from this rule change, but you really can't blame them if they say "hey, you guys came up with this stupid rule to hurt us, so now you suffer the consequences."
posted by sour cream at 3:19 PM on June 20, 2005


Awesome comment by ergos at this thread on SportsFilter.
posted by I EAT TAPES at 4:04 PM on June 20, 2005


While it is not appropriate for the race authorities to require that drivers race at reduced speeds because of incorrect tyres, keep in mind that all drivers race at reduces speed in certain parts of every race track. Why? Because their tyres are not capable of providing grip at higher speeds - no tyre is capable of providing enough grip to satisfy the driver, because they will always run at the limit of the grip available. The real heart of the issue here was that the practical limit for the Michelin tyres was low enough at that one turn to significantly disadvantage those drivers.

Winning races is as much about decisions made before the race as it is about having the faster car or the best driver - if you make wrong decisions about set-up or equipment choices, you are sunk no matter how fast or how talented you are. To expect authorities to change the rules because you made a bad choice is ridiculous.

It should also be made clear that Formula One Management and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as commercial entities, can have no role in the enforcement of the rules."
This is exactly correct - if promotional arms of the sport were allowed to play this role, the result would be similar to that which resulted in 8 f1 boat drivers being killed in one season in the 80s.
posted by dg at 4:16 PM on June 20, 2005


Thanks everyone for a great thread!
posted by intermod at 8:15 PM on June 20, 2005


The only option the drivers on michelin tires was to A) voluntarily slow down at that corner, while the other drivers blew past it, B) Not Race or C) Risk their lives and try to make the turn at high speed. B seems pretty reasonable.

I agree.

On a related note, F1 is still a heck lot more interesting than what Americans seem to favour -- going around in circles?
posted by slf at 8:58 PM on June 20, 2005


Well, I figured that went without saying. I always thought that "Go hard, turn left" was about all the US drivers were able to understand in terms of driver instruction.

*ducks*
posted by dg at 9:42 PM on June 20, 2005


Chuckles writes "Anyway, back to mosch: Tires are unsprung weight, and rotating mass.

"It is true that unsprung wait is critical, but your reasoning is not correct. The fact that tires rotate is irrelevant (the contact patch is stationary, the opposite patch is moving at 2xspeed of car, the average is the same as the speed of the car). The problem with unsprung wait is suspension related - it is much easier to keep a light tire on the track than a heavy one."


Rotating mass is huge in any motorsport featuring acceleration and braking. The less rotating mass the fast you spin up and down effectively giving you more torque. And not just wheels anything that that has it's rotation coupled directly to engine speed will effect performance. Crank, flywheel, alternator rotor, harmonic balancer, transmission shafts, drive shafts, brake disks, lug nuts, etc. etc.

There are rules in some drag racing requiring a wheel to mass a minimum amount, say 15kg. Your standard steel wheels will have the bulk of the mass at the edge. To comply with rules but still gain advantage you can buy light weight material wheels that have the mass concentrated at the hub. These wheels are a drag race only type item and will rapidly fail if used to turn corners.
posted by Mitheral at 12:29 PM on June 21, 2005


mosch: No, because in Barcelona, even without lame-duck Ferrari, there were another 9 teams racing. With or without the Michelin teams, Indy would have been a race between just two cars (I don't think anybody will argue that Sauber and Minardi are remotely competitive), one of which under the strictest orders to let the other win. I do call that a sham.
posted by Skeptic at 12:41 PM on June 21, 2005


This is late and probably won't be seen, but it's fun to rant/whine.

I've been an F1 fan since I was 4 years old, been watching for 25 years. This is the first time I've been able to afford to travel to see a race on my own. I was going with a group of people, and when one of them dropped out, I dropped the money for the ticket and a plane ticket to bring my girlfriend with me. It was going to be the first big race for both of us. I'm a McLaren fan (GO KIMI, GO!!) and she's a Renault fan, mostly Fisichella. I hadn't felt that kind of anticipation and excitement in years, it was like when I knew Christmas was coming when I was a little tike.

The disappointment I'm feeling is beyond my ability to describe it. I got my vacation time, I spent the money to fly from LA to Indy, a rental car, and the tickets, and it had been a dream of mine to see an F1 race in person for a long time. Hell, up until the race, I was having dreams about being there.

We got in Friday night (I wish I could have come sooner for the pitwalk on Thursday, but work was not particularly flexible), and the friends I went with suck at getting up early enough, so I missed Saturday practice. I did, however, see qualifying, and it was everything I hoped it would be. Cheering Kimi, Fisi, Alonso, and Button. Jeering Schumacher and Villeneuve, and still cheering Rubens, since he's still a damn cool guy, despite being a Ferrari driver. The crowd reaction was beyond that of anything I've heard at football games, soccer games, baseball games, whatever. Those cars are INCREDIBLY loud (I just didn't realize what it was like, no matter how people tried to describe it to me), and despite that, when my girlfriend called her dad and held out the phone so he could hear Kimi go by on his flying lap, the crowd drowned it out. It was damn near a religious experience.

It was my vacation, so I didn't watch TV, go on the internet, read the paper, nothing. It was all about spending time just having fun, so come Sunday morning, I had no clue this was happening. We all went to the races giddy with anticipation, so ready to see F1 in all its glory, watch (hopefully) Kimi and Alonso duke it out for the win. The gf and I couldn't stop telling each other how excited we were, we were bouncing in our seats (well, bleacher benches, but whatever) and couldn't stop telling each other how happy we were to be there and kissing each other. It was such a happy and great day!

I noticed that all but the Jordans and the Ferraris were slow to get into the initial grid, but I really thought nothing of it. Then I started hearing people in the crowd talk about what was going on, that there was a potential boycott. I assumed it was the normal thing that follows F1...F1 is like a soap opera, lots of big, terrifying stories, but most of 'em are just goofy crap that helps sell some newspapers/page views. Then Michelin runners pulled out onto the track, and I snapped photos as my favorite guys pulled out of the pits and headed up to the grid (I also snagged a shot of Trulli, might as well get the pole sitter, right?).

They all lined up, the lights went out for the formation lap, and my girlfriend and I both stood watching the cars go by. Hearing them rev the engines, spinning the tires trying to build up heat in the rubber...I've never heard a sound like that. It sounded like a thousand banshees wailing all around you, echoing off every surface, this howl that I've never heard the likes of, be it from an airplane or anything else. It was the kind of sound that reaches into you and shakes your soul, the sound of just limitless power, the shriek of something otherworldly. *THIS* is what I came to hear, this is what I came to see. I wanted to see the greatest drivers in the most amazing cars duke it out for 73 laps around the circuit.

Then I watched the Michelin drivers, all 14 of them, pull in to the pitlane, and the pitiful sight of 2 Ferraris, 2 Jordans, and 2 Minardis pull up onto the grid. I watched as a couple of teams backed their cars into the garage, but a few of them were still out, including my boy, Kimi. His car was still in the pits with a crew surrounding it. I just knew that the race start was going to be postponed, that something had to happen.

The red starting lights began to light up. One of 'em, then two...all five were lit, then they went out, and just the saddest start I've ever seen happened. I just watched 6 cars pull away, four of which didn't stand a chance in hell of getting anywhere near the top two, and the top two just ran off into the distance at a reduced pace to save their engines for Magny-Cours. Sure, for a bit there, the two Ferraris raced (heck, qualifying saw 1:10s, the Ferraris posted 1:11s), but for the most part, they just cruised.

I refused to believe that this was how the race was going to go. They *had* to red flag it. They had to do something to fix this situation. I watched as Kimi's car was finally pushed into the garage. I couldn't believe it was happening, and wanted my friends to stay. I knew something would happen to fix it.

Round about lap 25, we could see the Renault garage doors starting to shut, all their equipment covered and being packed away, and it was pretty obvious then that this sham was going to continue the way it went. I swear around then I heard an engine fire in the pit lane, and between the howl of the few cars remaining, I kept trying to get my friends to hear it. A few of them did. I think now that it might have been one of the Minardis that managed to stall it on the pitlane being refired. There was that flutter of hope, though, that this would all be some cruel joke and the real race would happen.

We gave up 5 laps later, and left. A guy in red trackpants, a Ferrari shirt, and a Ferrari hat shouted to me "Hey, you don't want to see Michael win?" I shouted back "Congratulations on being faster than Jordan!" I'm not one to be snarky too often, but I was frustrated. At least it ended with smiles, and we went on our way.

In the end, it's just a race, something that means very little in the grand scheme of things. To me though, it was so much more. I remember lying in bed when I was 6 or so, I knew all the tracks by heart, and would lie there pretending to drive them. I didn't understand the line at all, and I sure as hell didn't know how to shift, but that didn't stop me from pretending to drive it, throwing the shifter through the gates, day-dreaming of the day when I'd be an F1 driver. That chance is long gone, but this was the day where I'd finally go to a race, finally get to see the thing that I'd loved for so long. My girlfriend wasn't an F1 fan until she met me, but over the past few years, she's become a huge fan too. We wake up at 5am to watch the races from Europe. My birthday was the Thursday before the race, she spent an inordinate amount of time and effort trying to find a McLaren shirt for my birthday so I could wear it to the race (in vain, I might add, the Exoticar store in Los Angeles has closed).

It's just a race, but it was a huge thing to me. The fact that my first race experience was this is far more devestating to me than the money I spent. Seeing my girlfriend on the verge of tears as we realized it wasn't just a some evil joke, knowing how much this trip meant for me broke my heart.

I've got my justifications for why it wasn't that bad. At least this time, when Ferrari walked away from it, it wasn't just another boring 2003 race. There's a story to go with it. I can also say that, chances are, I've witnessed a pivotal point in F1 history, when the FIA gave the finger to the teams and the suppliers, and they gave the finger back. But that doesn't stop the disappointment.

At any rate, I don't care whose fault it is at this point. All I know is, this was a big thing to me, and grown adults refused to come to a compromise and let the race happen. The drivers wanted to drive, and it didn't happen. And now, because of this absurd series of events, there may not be another USGP for a long time, and I don't know that I can afford to travel abroad for a race. Our dream is to go to Monaco one day, but I don't know when we can afford that.

I read in the Indy papers about a woman who brought her husband, children, and extended family from Columbia to see the race as a Father's Day present. They were there to see Juan Pablo Montoya, their countryman, compete. She flew 20 people from Columbia to Indianapolis to see the race, and because of, as far as I can tell, the need to save face and maintain power between the suppliers, the teams, and the administration, she got screwed a hell of a lot worse than I did, and I know how screwed I feel.

Sunday was a sad day. I didn't feel like having Christmas not show up that year. I really didn't want to see my girlfriend crying because she saw something that means so much to me go away. I know my priorities are wrong, but racing is my thing. There's something in me that just has to have it, there's no other way to explain a love of racing from my earliest memories. Maybe it actually is in my blood.

I hope the USGP comes back, and I'll be back. I refuse to believe that lightning will strike twice. This kind of thing to do to ~150,000 people, many of whom travelled some distance to be there, has to not happen again. Formula 1 survives because of the money that viewers and fans generate. I don't know what the right solution was, because, frankly, the chicane wasn't it. But there has to be something, something to make it right for all those who came to see it. It just doesn't seem right that only those who had no part in this sham are the ones who truly got screwed.
posted by Swervo at 2:26 AM on June 22, 2005 [1 favorite]


Swervo, that's awful. I've only been to one GP, but I totally empathised with your feelings of anticipation; I can only imagine your disappointment. I hope you won't give up on F1 because of it- and fingers crossed you'll all get your money back! I've no idea if this is relevant, but does travel insurance cover this sort of thing?
posted by flameproof at 4:55 AM on June 22, 2005


Sad story, Swervo. I have always loved F1, mainly for the simple fact that it is (for me) the ultimate category in motorsport in terms of sheer performance and sharp-edged pushing the envelopeness.

I have never seen a F1 race in person and generally find the races themselves too processional these days - it has become a race where the winner is the one who can spend money the fastest. Still, I would be there in a heartbeat if there was one locally. Instead, I have to be content with watching the wannabe F1 cars on our local "circuit" and then driving around the circuit after the event while the walls are still in place, imagining what it would be like at 350 km/h. Scary. Fun.

I've never heard a sound like that. It sounded like a thousand banshees wailing all around you, echoing off every surface, this howl that I've never heard the likes of, be it from an airplane or anything else. It was the kind of sound that reaches into you and shakes your soul, the sound of just limitless power, the shriek of something otherworldly. *THIS* is what I came to hear, this is what I came to see.
Man, it makes me shiver just to read that. That is one thing that you don't really get with Indy cars, because of the rolling starts. But still, a beautiful noise, even if it makes your ears ring for hours afterward. The only thing that even comes close is a full field of BAD boats heading into the first corner at 250 km/h.
posted by dg at 6:20 AM on June 22, 2005




flameproof: There doesn't seem to be any travel insurance that will cover something like that, I don't expect to see anything. There's rumors of ticket prices being refunded, but I almost feel bad accepting that from the speedway, they weren't at fault for this either.

dg: Good, then my description of the sounds of those cars was pretty accurate.

On the other hand, qualifying was an absolute blast, so at least we got that. We sat next to the braking zone for turn one, and man, some of those cars really make some hair-raising sounds downshifting into that corner. The Jordans make just incredible noises, amazingly enough, it can't be described as anything other than rapid-fire cannons going off. Massa also just engine braked from high RPM into T1, that Ferrari engine sounds pretty good doing that as well.

Also, if anyone does go to Indy, the butterfly gardens next to the zoo in downtown are just beautiful. I can't recommend that place enough.

Oh, and I'm not ready to give up on F1 just yet. I love the sport, the cars, the drivers, and the spectacle too much to let this ruin it completely for me. I'll definitely be hesitant to make big plans to go and see a race next time, though.
posted by Swervo at 9:05 AM on June 22, 2005


Wow, and thanks for the link Mr Bismarck, that was a really interesting read. I was surprised to find out that Bernie knew that the Michelin runners wouldn't be able to run the race prior to them coming out onto the grid, and also that he was okay with the chicane idea.

Thanks again, that was really a cool insight into what happened behind the scenes that day.
posted by Swervo at 9:27 AM on June 22, 2005


Stoddart has outstanding issues with the FIA and Mosely in particular, so, even though I believe the bulk of his press release to be true, (for more reason than he'd be hauled over the coals if it wasn't), you'll want to make up your own mind.
posted by Mr Bismarck at 9:47 AM on June 22, 2005


I watch F1 for the politics myself.

"They (Ferrari) were totally innocent in this affair entirely," (Sir Frank) Williams told Reuters. "They had no reason not to race."

Hmm this is the same Frank Williams whose engine sponsor [BMW] have just bought themselves a new team, the same BMW who continue to be one of the main proponents of a breakaway F1 competition.

Michelin refuse to shift the blame onto the teams (perhaps they will be a main tyre supplier to Formula 1, just not to Ecclestone's version)

If Machiavelli was alive today he'd be an F1 Team Boss.
posted by fullerine at 10:36 AM on June 22, 2005


Mitheral: Rotating mass is huge in any motorsport featuring acceleration and braking. The less rotating mass the fast you spin up and down effectively giving you more torque. And not just wheels anything that that has it's rotation coupled directly to engine speed will effect performance. Crank, flywheel, alternator rotor, harmonic balancer, transmission shafts, drive shafts, brake disks, lug nuts, etc. etc.

Well, I agree, I was wrong... Here are the details.


The energy in the motion of a wheel on a car is:

E=1/2 m v^2 + 1/2 w^2I (where w is really omega)

v= 2 pi r w

which makes energy:
E= 2 pi^2 w^2 (m r^2 + I)

Moment of inertia for a uniform disc is 1/2 m r^2, wheels probably have some, or a lot of, bias toward the rim - except drag racers I guess. That would make a wheel's moment of inertia somewhat higher than a uniform disc's - so lets call it m r^2. Still wheel mass only contributes twice as much inertia as any other mass on the car. Of course we are talking tires, not wheels. A tire's moment of inertia is much higher than a uniform disc's...

For the record, a Formula One car weighs 600kg, anyone know the wheel weight? Can't be more than 20kg each I think... The tire isn't heavier than the rim, is it?

Of course anything coupled to the engine speed - at 17,000 rpm the engine spins 10x faster than the wheels - will add something like 500x more inertia to the car than the items mass alone would suggest.

So, you know, I'm an idiot... But not by _that_ much...
posted by Chuckles at 10:31 PM on June 22, 2005


Ack, that bias toward the rim stuff should have been deleted... Since I am using rim to refer to the wheel rim, as opposed to the rim of the wheel, because I started talking about tire and wheel rim separately, and because the tire is probably a little lighter than the wheel rim... Anyway...
posted by Chuckles at 10:35 PM on June 22, 2005


Oh ya, that should say 50x... 0.5x10^2=50... ARGH!
posted by Chuckles at 1:26 AM on June 23, 2005


Swervo: I'm very sorry to hear you were there as well. I arranged a business trip such that I was able to be in both Montreal and Indianapolis. Two grand prixs in two weeks... such excitement!

The Montreal GP was fantastic... if you thought those engines were something to hear in qualifying, you should hear 20 of them all going full throttle to turn 1. Our seats were in the grandstand opposite the pits, near the start/finish line and we got to witness such drama unfold.

Watching my favorite team (Ferrari) claw their way to the top through some great driving, and some good luck (the JPM black flag, the Alonso retirement). Getting to see Michael and Rubens both finish on the podium was amazing... this hasn't been a good year for Ferrari fans!

The days until the USGP left me so excited. Our seats had a great view of turn 1, and I was looking forward to the overtaking possibilities that might unfold during the race. The drama that would occur during the start as 20 cars attempted to make their way through... seeing who would shuffle to where.

Qualifying was excellent, even though my guys were on the 3rd and 4th rows. I convinced myself 'perhaps they're using an alternate fuel strategy... perhaps something will go their way'. After all, Canada didn't didn't look promising for Rubens, and he finished on the podium.

Then race day came... and 14 cars pulled into their garages.

I spent the rest of the race just upset and occasionally saying 'what the fuck?' It was just beyond comprehension.

I'm a lifelong Ferrari fan, but there was no joy in that race.
posted by mosch at 11:40 PM on July 2, 2005


As a followup to this, Magny-Cours was not great, but Silverstone was a great race to watch. Watching Montoya and Alonso duke it out, it was a good close race to the end, and my boy Kimi did well.

Michelin have promised us our ticket money back, still waiting for details. It's been a hell of an episode, but I haven't lost my love of F1. Silverstone was great fun, and precisely why I watch. Oh, and my poor gf, given Fisichella's second stall in the pit lane in two races, but she's decided that she's more in Renault's stall than Fisi's alone. As a McLaren fan, I'm stoked that Montoya did so well, but Alonso still gained another two points on Kimi, dammit!

mosch: I *almost* feel bad about mocking Ferrari earlier :) I'm still sorta in shock, I just caught the end of the Speed broadcast (I've been saving it so me and the gf can watch it together) where Sam Posey gave his thoughts on the whole thing, and it brought the whole episode back, which is why I decided to post here.

Here's to the rest of the season being as great, lord knows I'm looking forward to Spa, and I continue to think that Shanghai has a good track with that decreasing radius first corner complex. It makes it a little more likely that they might make a mistake, and it seemed to make for a great passing spot last year. Here's to Rubens doing well, Michael suffering (sorry mosch, but while I think he's incredibly good, I still enjoy seeing him suffer), and to a great points race (at least amongst the manufacturers) up until the end of the season.

Oh, and forza Stoddart!
posted by Swervo at 2:28 AM on July 12, 2005


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