SUNDAY 19TH JUNE 2005
Motorsport's governing body, the FIA, has turned down appeals for a chicane to be installed ahead of the banked final turn on the Indianapolis road course, despite threats from the seven Michelin teams that they would withdraw from the race otherwise.
The FIA has dismissed the chicane plea as 'out of the question', claiming that the problems are of Michelin and the teams' own making as they sought to run what have turned out to be unsuitable tyre specifications in search of a competitive edge over rival Bridgestone.
"To change the course in order to help some of the teams with a performance problem caused by their failure to bring suitable equipment to the race would be a breach of the rules - and grossly unfair to those teams which have come to Indianapolis with the correct tyres," an official letter sent to the tyre manufacturer and its teams said.
The FIA is annoyed that Michelin, which suffered a series of incidents during Friday practice at Indianapolis, has sought to try and manipulate the situation on what it is calling safety grounds. The French company, in an earlier letter to F1 race director Charlie Whiting, reported that it could not guarantee the integrity of the tyres which its teams used in qualifying 'unless the vehicle speed in turn 13 can be reduced'.
With calls for a chicane falling on deaf ears, Michelin is expected to try and request approval of a plan to use Barcelona-spec rubber, but this too would be in contravention of the rulebook, which prevents the substitution of one set of tyres with another, and the exchange of tyres after qualifying without due cause. The FIA is reluctant to accept that the situation warrants the replacement, and has told the Michelin teams that they should heed the manufacturer's advice and change tyres every ten laps. The governing body also suggested that Michelin advise teams of a safe speed for turn 13, and make sure that other, faster, cars were not obstructed.
"If the technical delegate and the stewards were satisfied that each change was made because the tyre would otherwise fail (thus for genuine safety reasons) and that the relevant team were not gaining an advantage, there would be no penalty," the FIA letter said, "If this meant using tyres additional to a teams' allocation, the stewards would consider all the circumstances in deciding what penalty, if any, to apply."
Ralf Schumacher's Toyota TF105 is recovered after hitting the wall at the United States Grand Prix