Bernie Ecclestone tried in
vain to get the 14 teams to race last Sunday at Indy. Was he, the
Speedway and the fans a victim of a conspiracy?
There has been a lot written over the last several
days about the Indy Fiasco, but I have a slightly different opinion on what Indy
was all about. It will be interesting to see what the FIA will do to the
seven teams on Thursday, who have the ultimate responsibility for not running, and
to Michelin, who at the least are suspected of lying, and certainly of aiding and
abetting the teams who did not run.
I think the last minute addition of a chicane would have been insane and was
really just a diversion for the media to focus on. CanAm did exactly that at
Charlotte Motor Speedway when it was the 5-liter CanAm Series. They had suspension
problems, and if memory serves me correctly, tire problems, too, with the banking
The hay bale chicane they used in the backstretch
at the last minute was a disaster and again if memory serves, was virtually
non-existent at race end. They had a "Chief Steward in Charge of the Chicane"
(Watts Hill) at the chicane and in touch with the Chief Steward at the time to try
to make it work, he did his best but it didn't.
I am surprised that F1's Chief Steward, Charlie Whiting, didn't tell the teams,
"You race or else," with the 'or else' the threat of loss of all season points,
and fines per car up to the maximum fine limit ($500,000?) each. I strongly doubt
he has that authority, but it would have been a good strategic move and perhaps
have gotten teams to break ranks and put on a show for the spectators.
Nowhere have I seen it mentioned, but my inquisitive mind tells me there is more
behind this than tires. Most of the seven teams, partially or totally owned by
auto manufacturers, have been posturing against the FIA and Bernie for well over a
year, threatening to run their own series when the present Concorde agreement ends
after 2007. And today AutoRacing1.com got wind that Minardi might be
bought by BMW, bring them into the GPWC fold. Minardi's team boss, Paul
Stoddart, has been very outspoken against Max Mosley, who supports Bernie
Ecclestone and the current F1 regime.
That this group seriously damaged Max Mosley, the FIA, and Bernie Ecclestone last
Sunday, does not go unnoticed by me. And it is not just a coincidence in my
honest opinion. But like the "oval cartel," such a cabal would be devilishly hard
to prove. As of this (Tuesday) morning there has not been one peep out of any of
the seven teams, complaining that Michelin did not supply tires adequate to do the
job, especially after Michelin had been warned in writing by the FIA on June 1st.
Just the opposite, Frank Williams was quoted just
today "The teams were desperate to race and put on a good show,“ says the
Englishman, "Racing in North America is of fundamental importance to Formula One’s
commercial health." The BMW WilliamsF1 Team also supported the decision of all
Michelin-supplied racing teams to waive the chance of scoring World Championship
points. Williams declared, "We wanted at least to entertain the fans and we were
prepared to let go of the points and give them all to Ferrari. I cannot stress
enough how disappointed we were." He went on to place the blame squarely on
Again, another diversion to make it sound good?
An issue has been raised about whether the diamond grinding the Speedway
did to the asphalt caused the Michelin tire failures. The Speedway
of course says no. Michelin did not have problems at Indy in
previous years. Why now all of a sudden and why were we only told about
a few problems with the tires throughout the weekend. Was it just
a coincidence that only the two Toyotas had real issues and could that
have been caused by chassis setup or too low tire pressures? Was
it not said that Michelin advised the teams what to do for the tires to
be safe after the Schumacher accident, i.e. use proper air pressures.
Then that was silenced.
During the course of the weekend, bulletins were issued stating how the
FIA had measured, weighed and otherwise examined competing cars and
found them in compliance with its rules. The tire problems experienced
were limited to one team, Toyota. Up and down pit road, it was widely
discussed that not only did Toyota, but other teams as well, ignore tire
manufacturer’s inflation-pressure recommendations. It was made known by
Michelin that the problem experienced by Ricardo Zonta Friday was due to
under-inflation of their tires, and it can be presumed Ralf Schumacher’s
Friday crash was for the same reason. No other Michelin-shod cars had
any trouble that I heard of.
Why then were there no complaints from the teams about Michelin? None of the Michelin
teams came out and made a fuss about blaming Michelin for what happened. And
how come nobody broke ranks? It is said that several teams had no tire problems as
monitored during practice, yet they also refused to race. Why? What was so
powerful as to keep them all off the track?
There were also reports that Jarno Trulli's car didn't have enough fuel to go three laps in the race. That meant they knew they would not race
even before qualifying on Saturday and decided to get some PR by running
virtually empty and taking the pole. How could they have been so
Also, I think Bernie has wanted to go back to a single tire make for a while
anyway. Notice, too, that most of the breakaway GPWC teams are Michelin
shod...perhaps Bernie got wind that the French tire maker was going to become the
official tire supplier to GPWC. Say au revoir to Mr. Bibendum after this
year if our sources are correct that the FIA will kick Michelin out of F1 after
this year. Perhaps Bernie's side sticking a dagger into the GPWC by way of
Is it a coincidence that the FIA announced radical rules changes for 2008
effectively copying Champ Car on many things. The GPWC is dead set against
going to such extremes. You don't see them proposing rules anywhere near
what the FIA proposed. The press release by the FIA probably galled Ron
Dennis who spent a small fortune on his lavish technology center for the sole
purpose of building state-of-the-art race cars.
And last, who were the Stewards of the Meet at this event, and what is their
experience? By the Code, the Stewards have an awful lot to say about the running
of the race, and yet there hasn't been a whisper about them, so far. Wonder what
they were doing while all this was playing out?
The bottom line is that I believe what was at play
at Indy last Sunday goes far deeper than most of you realize, that the safety
issue card was played for all its worth. And in the chess match between the
current regime and the GPWC, the race fans and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
became the pawns.
Just as I feel the France family used Tony George
as a pawn to help divide and conquer CART and open wheel racing in the USA, so too
might Mr. George have been an unknowing victim in the war between Max, Bernie and
the breakaway GPWC.
A conspiracy or just my wild imagination? You
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