One might wonder indeed. It was an unbelievable sight: after the formation lap, all the cars using Michelin tyres headed to the pits. Only six that were supplied for by Bridgestone remained on track and ran the race: 2 Ferraris, 2 Minardis and 2 Jordans.
How was such a situation made possible? First, last Friday, Ralf Schumacher crashed his car in Turn 13, a fast banked curve, presumably because of a faulty tyre. Given the violence of the shock, his doctor advised him not to run the GP two days after. On Saturday, replacing Ralf in the Toyota team, Ricardo Zonta met the same problem and had an accident too. Soon, Michelin agreed to say their tyres were not safe on this track and stated teams using them should not race unless they were allowed to use brand new tyres coming from Franceovernight. Arguing it was against the rules, the FIA said, no.
Then, Michelin claimed that speed should be reduced, by means of a chicane laid before Turn 13, to ensure certain level of safety. 9 teams agreed on this proposal, but once again, the FIA turned it down, say it’d be unfair for the teams running on Bridgestone tyres.
What was to happen happened: Michelin runners did not take part in the race. 14 cars quit the track and then, to the woos of the crowd, began the most ridiculous Formula 1 grand-prix in all times. Schumacher won, Barrichello came a close second. So close that the Ferrari drivers nearly had an accident. The next four are, by order of arrival, Monteiro, Karthikeyan, Albers and Friesachier. Bridgestone and these 3 teams got the job done: was it that difficult? There’s one positive element though: Jordan and Minardi scored points, which will ensure them a financial income.
Speaking of money, will the 150,000 spectators be given theirs back? They widely incriminated Michelin and remarked they had not made it to Indianapolis just to see Ferrari testing their cars.
Formula 1 was already struggling for a good image in America, now, what shifted from a safety to a political issue made it look contemptible even in Europe.