INDIANAPOLIS: Drivers and team chiefs fear Formula One in America may never recover after Sunday's US Grand Prix charade.
Only the six cars on Bridgestone tyres took part after a row over additional track safety measures once a practice crash alerted Michelin to the fact they had a problem.
The 100,000 crowd had no idea of the problem until the 14 cars on Michelin tyres pulled into the pit lane after the warm-up lap leaving only six cars on the grid.
Fans booed and threw bottles onto the track. By the end of the race there was only a few thousand fans left, with F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone being hassled.
Michelin race director Pierre Dupasquier defended the decision to advise teams to pull out.
“The tyres were not adapted to the special characteristics of the Indianapolis track,” he said.
He said the difference with last year was that the new rules forced teams to use tyres longer.
“It was not a flaw (in the tyre) but a specific we had not calculated,” he said.
Asked if he felt Michelin had been hurt by the incident, he said: “We could have feared prejudice if we had not taken that decision, if we had been irresponsible.”
He went on: “There are different types of risk. If you make a trapeze with an old piece of string which you know will break after a dozen swings and you tell the trapeze artist to get on, then you put his life in danger, above the risk he knowingly takes.”
He said the team bosses had backed their decision.
“They followed us and understood because they're engineers,” he added.
But ordinary fans can only wonder why motor racing's governing body could fail so lamentably to find a solution. – AFP