We have had rain, animals, and crashes that prevent the race from reaching its full potential but have tyres ever stopped a car from racing? Well, it did during the US GP at Indianapolis in 2005. It was at the brink of the US market opening itself for Formula One when F1 shot itself in the foot with this PR nightmare.
We all remember when Lewis Hamilton risked staying on with the soft and started the race restart alone on the grid, but during the US GP of 2005, there were only six teams on the starting grid as seven teams retired at the end of the formation lap.
The peculiar Indianapolis event
To understand what went wrong, we must learn about the tyre regulations 2005. There were two suppliers, Bridgestone and Michelin, rather than just one, and drivers were only permitted to utilise a single pair of tyres for both qualifying and the race. In totality, the seven teams using Michelin tyres had an advantage over the three teams using Bridgestone tyres, as shown by the fact that the top four constructors in the standings were all using Michelin tyres.
After a horrifying crash during qualifying in turn 13, Michelin discovered that their tyre could not withstand the corner’s tremendous high speeds, which was made even harsher because the track had just been resurfaced. The US GP would consist of 73 laps, but the company stated that it could only ensure safety for ten laps. The FIA was put in a bind, to put it delicately.
The Michelin teams were instructed not to compete since a settlement was not in the cards. Although everyone lined up on the grid as required by the regulations, fooling the audience into believing everything was A-OK, everyone except Ferrari, Jordan, and Minardi returned immediately to the pits after the formation lap. This was the peculiar start of the US GP of 2005.
Why teams pulled out of the race?
Teams pulled out to guarantee their safety, as drivers were injured left and right due to a lack of safety equipment in the car. The teams tried to negotiate and install a chicane or get different tyres so they could also partake in the racing, but F1 could not reach a middle ground, and hence the race only consisted of six drivers.
Securing a podium from the 17th is a huge deal; hence Monteiro did not let the circumstances stop him from celebrating, but race winner Schumacher and runner-up Barrichello refused to join him and quickly retreated from the podium to a choir of boos. Fans, F1 officials and Michelin officials all have had a field day in court with numerous allegations popping up, and in conclusion, we all want one thing from the officials: “Never again, please“.