New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

F1 debacle - who is to blame?

2005-06-20 10:13

John Oxley

For my money, the primary blame must be laid fairly and squarely at the feet of the FIA, the sport's rule makers - but not for the reason you are probably thinking.

At the bottom of this whole thing is the rule that says teams must use only one set of tyres for qualifying and the race.

Tyres may be changed if they puncture, but then only the damaged tyre.

This has led to a situation where, in its bid to achieve supremacy, Michelin has pushed the edge of the development envelope. The Bridgestone teams have battled all season to stay up with the Michelin-shod racers, and are only now starting to become competitive.

My take is that in its bid to counter this, Michelin pushed the envelope a little bit TOO far, and produced tyres that just weren't up to the task in hand.

Bridgestone, however, always erring on the side of safety, according to Michael Schumacher, produced a tyre that COULD last the pace - and it did!

End of story.

Behind the scenes

So what about the behind-the-scenes stuff?

Let's put it another way. If you had been sucking hind tit all season, and suddenly you saw a chance to come out on top, would YOU accept a major change in the rules - the issuing of new tyres to the Michelin teams - which would put you right back down the grid?

Or would YOU allow a chicane on the main straight that would take away the only advantage you have - the ability to go flat out all the way down the straight and through the banked turn at the end without your tyres disintegrating.

Or, put it another way. The Bridgestone runners have been having problems all season, but has anyone suggested changes to the rules to help THEM out? No way Jose.

In the end the Michelin runners chose the easy way out, no doubt hoping the FIA would back down. They pretended to start - in effect "buying in" to the race - then pulled out. They cheated the crowds.

But there was a way the race could have been run. Quite simply, the Michelin runners could have driven at a pace that would have preserved their tyres. That's what Michael Schumacher has had to do this season, and it's cost him dearly.

All the teams can control the engines via the in-built telemetry, and it would simply have been a matter of restricting the revs down the straight to keep speed down.

Scoring points

OK, it wouldn't have been an exciting race up front, with the Ferraris romping away into the sunset, but at least the Michelin guys would have been having a go between themselves, and apart from the 10 points for first, and the eight for second, there would have been a lot of other points to share out among them.

It would have kept the championship alive, and it would have given the fans at least half a race, instead of a procession.

Now what do we have? The American public is, quite rightly, fed up. They feel cheated - and they were.

But don't blame this particular debacle on Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi. THEY raced. Don't blame the FIA for sticking to their guns, and not changing the rules to suit the Michelin runners - although as I said at the beginning, they started the whole ball rolling.

As far as the "day of shame" is concerned, blame Michelin. The company produced tyres that weren't up to the job, then tried to use its majority position to push through changes that were just not, well, sporting!

Michelin has been caught cheating in the past, now it's found wanting in the quality of the produce it's putting out.

In a perfect world, I'd like to see Michelin slapped with a big fat fine that's enough to give the US fans their money back.

But I'm afraid we won't see that - although the fun and games is going to really start in earnest as Michelin tries to push the blame onto everybody else.

What I think WILL happen is that we'll go back to at least one tyre change per race.

It'll be a whole lot safer, and it will level the playing field. For now...


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