Schumacher wins F1 farce as 7 teams pull out

20th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 June 2005, INDIANAPOLIS - Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello gave Ferrari a one-two finish at a farcical United States Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday which saw only six of 20 cars competing because all others withdrew over safety concerns from their tyre partners Michelin. The Ferraris, Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers of Minardi and the Jordans of Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan - all with Bridgestone tyres - were the only cars to compete. Renault with world championship leader F

20 June 2005

INDIANAPOLIS - Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello gave Ferrari a one-two finish at a farcical United States Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday which saw only six of 20 cars competing because all others withdrew over safety concerns from their tyre partners Michelin.

The Ferraris, Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers of Minardi and the Jordans of Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan - all with Bridgestone tyres - were the only cars to compete.

Renault with world championship leader Fernando Alonso, McLaren- Mercedes, BMW-Williams, Sauber-Petronas, Red Bull Racing, BAR Honda and Toyota with pole position holder Jarno Trulli returned to the pits at the end of the warm-up lap after a last-ditch rescue plan in the form of a chicane to slow the cars down was dismissed.

Michelin said they could not guarantee safety for the seven teams with the tyres after failing to determine why their tyres failed on Friday, which led to crashes of Toyota drivers Ralf Schumacher and Ricardo Zonta.

When Ferrari clinched their first season win, the others were long dismantling their motorhomes and pits. Vast numbers of fans were on their way home after voicing their dissent, with some of them also throwing bottles onto the track.

The victory ceremony was cut short and police were on hand to maintain order among the remaining fans.

The seven-time world champion Schumacher clinched his 84th career win when he returned from his second pit stop side by side with Barrichello, but had the upper end being on the inside lane.

Schumacher, who won the 73-lap race over 306.016 kilometres in 1 hour 29 minutes 43.181 seconds, moved into third place in the drivers standings with 34 points from nine of 19 races. Alonso has 59 and McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen 37.

"It was a bit of a strange race and not the way to win the first race of the season. I would have wished to fight the race under normal circumstances. We had a good car and a fair chance to win," said Schumacher.

The German said that "Rubens and myself had fun out there" but also asked for understanding because "We have done nothing wrong".

Barrichello spoke of "a sad race" and said he "felt like going to the pits as well when all the teams went in".

After all, the race - in which Monteiro was the only happy man by finishing on the podium in third place, Karthikeyan fourth, Albers fifth and Friesacher sixth - was only a footnote on an embarrassing day for the sport which has always struggled in the United States.

"It is a catastrophe for the sport and the spectators. This could have easily been prevented by the chicane," said Sauber chief Peter Sauber.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis said: "This is a bad day for Formula One. The only solution would have been the chicane but the FIA didn't want it."

Trullisaid: "It was clear that we were unsafe today and we couldn't race. I am sorry for the U.S. fans."

Looking at the future of F1 in the U.S. and that of Michelin in the sport, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone said: "Things are not looking good in either case."

Earlier Sunday, nine of the teams (including Minardi and Jordan) agreed to stage the race with a chicane, but Ferrari objected and the FIA would have none of it.

The chicane was to slow down the cars before the banking final curve on the 4.192 kilometres course where the Toyota drivers Schumacher and Zonta crashed in practice Friday when their left rear Michelin tyre failed.

"We reached the conclusion that we will not compete with these tyres in the current configuration of the course," Michelin said in a letter to FIA.

The company said after the race in a statement: "Michelin is very disappointed about the way the United States Grand Prix turned out at Indianapolis today, for the public, the drivers and the teams.

"Driver safety is always a priority. Michelin will never change its stance on this principle," Michelin said, thanking its partners for "having respected our advice on safety issues.

It was the latest incident in a problematic season in which the qualifying format was changed just three weeks ago at the European Grand Prix after a two-heat system introduced at the start of the season flopped. Now the grid is determined in one session again.

The tyre rules have also been the centre of controversy before.

At the European Grand Prix Raikkonen crashed in leading position in the final lap when the suspension broke due to tyre problems. McLaren kept the driver on the track because he was winning and because they were not sure whether they could change the tyre.

In addition, BAR Honda were banned for two races for using an underweight car at the San Marino GP.

The next race is the French GP on July 3 in Magny-Cours.

DPA

Subject: German news

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