THURSDAY 23RD JUNE 2005
FIA president Max Mosley has attempted to explain his reasons for not sanctioning the installation of a chicane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Sunday, even though it meant that only six cars took part in the event.
Speaking via an FIA statement, the president began by denying that it was actually his decision to oppose the chicane plan put forward by Michelin and its seven teams - and backed by two of the three Bridgestone runners.
"The decision was taken - quite rightly in my view - by the FIA officials on the spot, and notified to the teams on the Saturday evening," he said, although his view does not quite tally with that offered by Minardi boss Paul Stoddart [see separate story], "I did not learn about it until Sunday morning European time. They refused the chicane because it would have been unfair, against the rules and potentially dangerous.
"A chicane would completely change the nature of the circuit. It would involve an extra session of very heavy braking on each lap, for which the cars had not been prepared. The circuit would also not have been inspected and homologated with all the simulations and calculations which modern procedures require. Suppose there had been a fatal accident - how could we have justified such a breach of our fundamental safety procedures to an American court?
"It's what some of the teams wanted because they thought it might suit their tyres. They wanted it because they knew they could not run at full speed on the proper circuit. We cannot break our own rules just because some of the teams want us to."
Asked why he thought the chicane would have been unfair, Mosley used a variety of analogies to make his point.
"Modern Formula One cars are specially prepared for each circuit, so to change radically a circuit like Indianapolis, which has very particular characteristics, would be a big disadvantage to the teams which had brought correct equipment to the event," he said.
"The best analogy I can give is a downhill ski race. Suppose half the competitors at a downhill race arrive with short slalom skis instead of long downhill skis and tell the organiser to change the course because it would be dangerous to attempt the downhill with their short skis. They would be told to ski down more slowly. To make the competitors with the correct skis run a completely different course to suit those with the wrong skis would be contrary to basic sporting fairness.
"It is the same from a purely motor racing point of view. Suppose, some time in the future, we have five teams with engines from major car companies and seven independent teams with engines from a commercial engine builder (as in the past). Imagine the seven independent teams all have an oil surge problem in turn 13 due to a basic design fault in their engines. They would simply be told to drop their revs or slow down. There would be no question of a chicane."
Mosley also refuted that the circuit layout could have been changed on safety ground - because 'there was no safety issue with the circuit'.
"The problem was that some teams had brought the wrong tyres," he insisted, before launching into another analogy, "It would be like making all the athletes in a 100m sprint run barefoot because some had forgotten their shoes!"
Having suggested that those teams running Michelin tyres run at reduced speed, that topic naturally came up for explanation.
"They do it all the time, and that is exactly what Michelin requested," he revealed, "If they have a puncture, they reduce their speed until they can change a wheel; if they have a brake problem, they adjust their driving to overcome it. They also adjust their speed and driving technique to preserve tyres and brakes when their fuel load is heavy. Choosing the correct speed is a fundamental skill for a racing driver.
"Alternatively, they could have used the pit-lane on each lap. The pit-lane is part of the circuit, and this would have avoided turn 13 altogether. It is difficult to understand why none of them did this, because seventh and eighth places were certainly available, plus others if any of the six Bridgestone runners did not finish. There were points available which might change the outcome of the world championship.
"It would seem strange, but it would absolutely have been a race for the 14 cars concerned. And they would all have been at full speed for most of each lap. That would have been a show for the fans, certainly infinitely better than what happened...."
Michael Schumacher leads Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello at Indianapolis