Michelin tells teams not to race U.S. Grand Prix: Michelin, who supplied tires for 14 Forumla One teams in this weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix, announced after qualifying that their tires were not safe on the final turn at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Problem: In Formula One, you’re not allowed to change tires after qualifying. This rule is in place because too many teams were using extremely sticky (and short-lived) tires in qualifying to get good lap times, then switching to standard tires for the actual race.
But despite the warning from Michelin, the FIA refused to allow teams to change tires and they further refused to erect a chicane in the final turn to slow speeds and make it safe enough for the Michelin-equipped cars. They refused this even after many of teams agreed to compete for no points, just so the race would go on.
Nine teams boycotted in protest. This left only six cars on the huge course. Reaction from the U.S. fans was not good:
From their seats in the grandstands, the few American fans of the globe-trotting racing series watched in wide-eyed disbelief as just six cars started Sunday’s event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
[…] The crowd was stunned when the 14 cars pulled off, with fans pointing and gawking as they tried to figure out what was going on.
[…] [Michael Schumacher] was booed on the podium, the traditional champagne celebration was canceled, and the public address announcer implored the few remaining fans in attendance to stop throwing things.
Fans booed and some threw water bottles on the track in disgust.
“If I was a fan out there I would do the same,” said driver Jacques Villeneuve, a former Indianapolis 500 winner.
After just 10 laps, many spectators began heading for the exits. There were reports of thousands of fans showing up at the ticket office demanding refunds, and that police had been called to keep the peace.
This sucks, because Formula One has never caught on in this country, and since every racing series in the U.S. seems to be moving to nothing but ovals (which I find interminably boring), a road series was going to be nice.