Conspiracy Theory

UPDATE #2 Still further toward our Conspiracy Theory, It has never been properly explained what happened on the morning of the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis. Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George could have actioned a clause in the Concorde Agreement which gives the promoter and organizer of a race the right to make decisions with regard to their individual events that cannot be influenced by the FIA. When asked by a group of those involved why he was not using that mechanism to save the race all George would say was: "I can't do it. I just can't do it!" If it was within his rights to take such an action (such as putting in a chicane to slow the cars), what stopped him from doing that? What made him refuse to take actions that would have saved the race? [Editor's Note: We suspect George saw the fiasco as a way out of his money-losing contract with Ecclestone and wasn't going to do anything to stop it. Until someone comes forward with a better explanation (and anyone who knows isn't talking), that sounds as good as any.]

06/25/05 Further to the conspiracy theory, has learned that Minardi were going to pull out of the USGP as well in sympathy with their rivals even though they were on Bridgestones, until succumbing from pressure from Bridgestone to take part and score some points. And whose side of the war in F1 is Paul Stoddart on? The GPWC of course. Our theory that what happened in Indy last Sunday was all about the GPWC teams sticking together, embarrassing Max Mosley, Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA and showing them, hey, you don't control us any more.

Paul Stoddart, the head of Minardi, has already called for Mosley to resign, blaming his intransigence over the chicane. Sir Frank Williams says he expects to be "humiliated" next week, when the seven Michelin teams are summoned to appear in front of the World Motorsport Council in Paris. Each will plead their innocence and claim they were left with no option but to withdraw; each will probably be fined heavily, fines that Michelin should really have to pay. At Magny-Cours next weekend, look for Paul Stoddart to again call for Mosley's resignation, claiming he has abundant paddock support. The political divisions in the sport will widen.

This Indy Star article alludes to some of the same things we have been saying, i.e. what happened in Indy was politically motivated and we haven't seen the end of the GPWC vs. Bernie/Max/Ferrari just yet.

06/22/05 A reader writes, Dear, Regarding your article on the F1 Conspiracy Theory, the BBC hints at signs of a conspiracy in this article on the Indy debacle too.

It's all too believable–a few people let success go to their heads and start focusing on their business/political rivals, and not on the paying customer. So all the talk of the importance of the USA market to F1 was just hype, and the principals in this sordid farce seem to think that we unsophisticated Americans will go on buying their fluff simply because they are who they are.

Well, I've seen and participated in better, more exciting competition in club racing (SCCA, AHRA and local kart tracks) than I've seen in F1 lately. And it's hard to enjoy the spectacle when 2/3 of the racers are absent. F1 may have just shot itself not in the foot, but in the head. Herb Hwang, San Mateo, CA

Another writes, You do have many very correct points, however to think that such a plan could be put together is hard to imagine. Getting any teams to agree after months of debate is tough. Getting them to end up in a conspiracy on short notice is almost impossible.

I believe what actually happened is the Michelin teams thought that by their continued threats the management would have to give. I think the false premise Michelin operated under for two days, was "If we stick together they have to change, they cannot have a race with only 6 cars." When the 14 cars pulled off after the parade lap, I think they assumed the green lights would not be turned on.

To support this consider Kimi was still ready to race and was not willing to exit his car until informed that the points challengers were all in the pits.

Once the race was actually started the bluff was over and now Michelin and the 7 teams must suffer their self inflicted pain. I cannot think how bad the pain must be, sponsors, who contracted for the teams to race for their world class brands, TV revenue future losses. Remember what Bernie did originally was to get all teams together so that the promoters of each race could pay predetermined price and have the show. Before Bernie showed up a promoter such as Tony George paid a nominal fee for the sanctioned event and then had to deal with teams and drivers depending on who was most popular.

Sometimes bright people make dumb choices, and I think this is another example in motorsports of this. If CART and Tony George could have looked into the future in 1995, I would venture to say that CART would be a solvent company and Tony George would own a large portion of the CART organization and have a reasonable say in the overall management including a position that would not allow what happened on Sunday in Indy to happen during the Indy 500.

The action by F1 management sure makes the decision Tony George made to get control of his event seem very necessary. This is not meant to be a Tony George endorsement but rather a look at the why for the family business he operates sake he needed more control over the Indy 500.

As for Michelin, they prove once again that when the going gets tough the French retreat. Allen Weatherby

Another writes, Dear AutoRacing1, I just read your conspiracy theory article and I have to admit, it's most intriguing, and at this point I would put nothing past the people involved in F1 to pull off something outrageous as that. What a bees nest. Doug Kaufman, Portland, OR.

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