Monday, June 20, 2005

A Truly Historic Race

Passion. Suspense. Drama. This ain't some movie I'm talking about. It's the US Grand Prix, which took place yesterday. It was truly a historic race.

Some Background:
The ten F1 teams have between them two tire suppliers, Bridgestone and Michelin. Now Michelin somehow managed to come to Indiannapolis yesterday with tires that disintegrated in the tough conditions on the track, specifically the 13th corner (see an interactive map here), which is I think a part of the Indy track. The problem was known on Friday, and a solution was proposed, whereby the construction of a new chicane would eliminate the corner. However, Ferrari, one of the three teams on Bridgestone tyres vetoed this proposal and insisted that all teams race on an unchanged track. The end result was that only the three Bridgestone teams started the race, with the other fourteen drivers pulling out after the warm-up lap. Since the other two teams were minnows (Jordan and Minardi), Ferrari predictably scored a One-Two with Schumacher and Barrichello finishing first and second. The Jordans of Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan finished third and fourth with the Minardis bringing up the rear.

My Observations:
  • I think more record were set in this race than any other. Least number of drivers starting, all starters finishing, best Minardi performance ever , the works. F1 journalists will be swamped just trying to figure out just how many records were created yesterday.
  • I think this is the first time the winner was able to drink all his Champagne, because neither Schumacher nor Barrichello sprayed theirs. Only Monteiro was happy enough to follow tradition.
  • The post race press conference was amazing. Schumacher looked like he would kill the next person who spoke to him, Barrichello looked like he wanted to kill Schumacher, and Monteiro looked like Christmas had come early. (Read qoutes from the Press Conference here.)
  • This is probably the first time since Cornelius Hopran that F1 have had a track invasion, only this time it was trash that was cluttering up the track. This led to some pretty exciting moments like where Barrichello spectacularly burst a full water bottle with his tires. Schumacher later commented that he could smell the beer on the track from his car.
  • This was the first time I actually sat through the whole post race analysis. It was well worth it, the commentators Chris Goodwin and Steve Slater were having a field day at the expense of the F1 top brass, Ferrari and Michelin. It was fun!
Overall, I think Bernie Ecclestone and his cronies owe F1 fans worldwide (and especially in the US) an apology. They, along with Ferrari are ultimately responsible for this travesty, because all the other participants had their hands tied. Michelin and the Michelin teams could not be expected to risk their drivers lives. The other two Bridgestone teams, it seems were in favour of not running the race (and perhaps refunding the spectators) but were forced to race when they saw Ferrari going on track. Ferrari and the FIA could have okayed the chicane, or could have in the very least cancelled the race and refunded the fans. But they chose to put their narrow intersts before those of F1 itself. They will, I think, pay the price for that.

Posted in Sports.


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