I finally have something to talk about that is automotive-related. It started out as the best F1 USGP weekend I’d had. I’ve attended all of the previous races but this was the first year I took advantages of the activities surrounding the race. The police-escorted drive sponsored by Porsche Club of America through downtown was blissful. The drive to the track was effortless. The concourse parking on the unused back straightway of the track was not only convenient but also a display of some of the best road-going sports cars ever produced. The walk to our seats though the winding golf course was pleasant. Then the race started.
I’m very disgusted with Michelin. They brought a knife to a gunfight in that they did not adequately test their tires and that they did not have alternative designs available at the track. Then they acted like ungrateful, selfish children when they weren’t allowed to break the rules and get their way.
From an engineering perspective, this article states that Michelin didn’t even know what the problem was or how to fix their tires. So what made them so sure that placing obstacles in the turns would prevent the problem? And what made them think that drivers racing on a reconfigured track for the first time during the race was a good idea? New tires with stiffer sidewalls were available Sunday morning but apparently Michelin didn’t want to take a penalty for changing tires. The request to change tires without a penalty was declined, so all of the cars were pulled from the track.
I think backing-out for safety concerns is the right thing to do but the method in doing so was unforgivable. There should have been an announcement before the race, not the massive and blindsiding protest seconds before the race began. If they had stiffer sidewall tires available, they should have taken the penalty and the race should have gone on. According to this article, Charlie Whiting says: “Your teams have a choice of running more slowly in Turn 12/13, running a tyre not used in qualifying (which would attract a penalty) or repeatedly changing a tyre (subject to valid safety reasons).” They should have tried these options and put on the best show they could. Even worse, Michelin racing director Frederic Henry-Biabaud stated in this news story that ‘Michelin was not to blame’. I disagree. Do proper testing and preparation long before the race or take the penalty and change tires just before the race. And lastly, take blame when all 14 cars with your tires don’t race.
I really hope this does not kill the United States Grand Prix. It was almost the most enjoyable race weekend I’ve ever had, and I’ve been to all of the races in Indianapolis. Indy Motor Speedway will probably take most of the financial hit and they should not. The only way I can really influence anything is with my purchases. I definitely will buy tickets for the nest F1 race at Indy. I definitely will not purchase Michelin tires for any of my automobiles. I’d purchased Michelin exclusively in past. I don’t enjoyed being toyed with by a bunch of crybabies who didn’t prepare for the race and didn’t get the rules bent in their favor and I will not financially support them in the future.