UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX POST-RACE QUOTES Sunday, June 19, 2005 NICK FRY (Chief executive officer, Lucky Strike BAR Honda): "We tried until five minutes before the pit lane to find a solution to this. We've been advised by our tire supplier that...
UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX POST-RACE QUOTES
Sunday, June 19, 2005
NICK FRY (Chief executive officer, Lucky Strike BAR Honda): "We tried until five minutes before the pit lane to find a solution to this. We've been advised by our tire supplier that the tires are not safe to run, and we have to respect that. We can't put our drivers in a situation that we're told by a major company that it is not safe. "I think it's the worst possible advert for Formula One at the moment. To only have six cars running, and none of them in contention for the championship. It's a great shame. Unfortunately, in the interest of safety, this decision was made." (How close were you to a solution): "We all wanted to race, the drivers, the teams, that's what we came here to do. Unfortunately, a solution couldn't be found. We had to take the advice of our tire supplier."
RON DENNIS (Team principal, West McLaren Mercedes): "We had a detailed written confirmation from Michelin that the tires were unsafe to run unless there was a chicane put in to slow the speed into this (Turn 13) corner. This was confirmed again (at) 5 o'clock this morning, and since that time we've been trying with other teams to convince FIA to put a chicane in the circuit, and they refused." (So you have to think about the spectators, the 150,000 that come in here and all the spectators at home. What do you think about that?): "Our primary responsibility is to the safety of my drivers, and I fully understand the consequences for Formula One are severe, and certainly enjoyment for the spectators here. But we gave many hours notice that we had severe problems, and the explicit, absolute explicit documented information from Michelin prohibited us from racing on these tires unless we were able to reduce to corner speed of the corner leading onto the pit straights. The teams had no alternative. We were for this to be a non-championship race; we were prepared to race later; we were prepared to do virtually anything other than to race through that corner at high speed. And that's an unacceptable risk." (So you're not pointing the finger at Ferrari and the FIA?): "Not pointing any fingers whatsoever; I'm saying we did everything we could along with nine other teams to find a solution to this problem, and as you can see, a solution wasn't found." (Could this possibly be the last time that Formula One comes to the United States due to this situation?): "I sincerely hope not." (Please give me a synopsis of this day): "It's a bad day for Formula One, but a clear demonstration of the difficulties the teams constantly have with finding solutions to problems. We initially were informed by Michelin on Friday, and the data coming to us has become more severe. The final tests in Europe were found to clearly demonstrate that we were unable to run on our tires and subject them to the forces leading to the turn onto the straight. Michelin has not hidden from their responsibilities, but their only solution was to put a chicane prior to this corner to reduce cornering speed, and this was rejected by the governing body."
RICARDO ZONTA (#17 Panasonic Toyota Racing): "Of course, I would have liked to race, but in the conditions we had today it was really, really risky. Any car could crash on Lap 2, Lap 5 or Lap 70, so it was very dangerous, and nobody wants to damage himself. All Michelin teams decided it was better not racing, of course, for safety."
CHRISTIAN KLIEN (#15 Red Bull Racing): "I think it is sad for everyone. We are all very disappointed for the racers, especially the spectators. They all came here to see a good race, but if (the drivers) crash going around the track, it is definitely not good for the sport here in America. There was a safety issue, and we were advised by Michelin to don't race. Safety is first." (About what could have happened): "For sure, the tires wouldn't have lasted. That's for sure. It would have worked out with a chicane in the last corner, but it didn't, so we couldn't race." (About why they pulled out): "I mean, that's Michelin and all the politics of Formula One for why we didn't race."
JACQUES VILLENEUVE (#11 Sauber Petronas): (About pulling out of the race): "We have no choice. The tires are dangerous. Probably every car would have blown their tires, which is also dangerous for the crowd. So, it was a Michelin decision, and that was the only decision they could make. We could have raced with a chicane, if a chicane had been put before the banking, but Ferrari didn't accept." (How do you feel for the fans?): "It's extremely disappointing, but there are three teams still racing, and one of them didn't agree to the chicane. It could have helped the sport, but I understand their position. It's not their fault that our tires aren't working." (How bad is it for Formula One, especially here in the U.S.?): "It's terrible, but there's nothing we can do about the tires. We arrive here, and there's something wrong (with the tires). There are rules, and right now the race is going on according to the rules." (How embarrassing is this for F1?): "It is embarrassing, but if you had 14 cars in the wall within 20 laps with tires blown and the risk of hurting the public, then that would have been more embarrassing." (Could a chicane have been built in that short timeframe?): "Oh yeah, definitely, that would have been very easy, but Ferrari didn't want to, I think. With the chicane, the tire would have been safe. We were just hoping a chicane would have been put in, because then we could have raced." (Does this mean you are onboard with the decision?): "There's nothing I could do. It's not in my hands. But if the tires are judged too not be safe, then it is the right decision." (Have you ever been in a situation like this?) "No. Never."
CHRISTIAN HORNER (Sporting director, Red Bull Racing): "Obviously, it was a very difficult decision to take. We acted on the advice of Michelin, who as you can see instructed all teams that the tires were unsafe to race here this weekend without the introduction of a chicane prior to Turn 13. Unfortunately, we were unable in the interest of safety for both our drivers, teams, and spectators to start the race today. Obviously, we've come here to race. We are extremely embarrassed about the situation, especially for all the guys who have paid to come here this afternoon to watch the race. I can only apologize on our behalf, and I'm sure of all the teams that we haven't put on the show that we wanted to this afternoon." (If chicane was put in): "I think if we could have been able to slow the cars before Turn 13, then there wouldn't have been a problem." (About having drivers slow cars down without chicane): "The problem is they are all racing drivers at the end of the day. How do you tell them to slow down, you know? When they are racing, they are pushing, they are defending, and they're attacking. It would be an impossible situation to police." (About easing any driver frustration): "David says he is a racer, and he would have taken the risks. But, you know, it is my responsibility as a team principal to act in the best interest of safety. And on the instruction from Michelin, the decision was very straightforward. We have seen several big accidents here due to tire failures. Michelin were adamant that they didn't want the cars to run this afternoon, so we have really operated on their response."
FELIPE MASSA (#12 Sauber Petronas): "I mean, it's not my decision. It's the decision from Michelin and from FIA. So I don't have anything to say." (Have you ever been in a situation like this?): "No, never, never." (About not being in the race): "It's very bad, but I feel like every Michelin driver. This is very bad for the sport. I feel also safe because I know that with these tires they maybe could have been even worse in the whole race, maybe worse even -- dangerous." (If a chicane had been built, would you have felt comfortable racing?) "Yeah, but they need to give us at least some laps to learn the track with the new chicane."
DAVID COULTHARD (#14 Red Bull Racing): "We have been acting under instruction on the grounds of safety from Michelin that there was no choice to go race." (On why chicane was not built): "I can't answer that. I believe there was a disagreement for Ferrari to accept, and that would be the case. And obviously Charlie (Whiting) made his position on behalf of the FIA quite clear that he didn't feel that they should have to alter the track. I think this is a unique situation. I think it was one on the grounds of safety they could have taken that stance. I know it is going to be one of these scenarios now, 'Who should have done?' and 'Who could have done?' The reality is that mature adults were not able to come to a resolution that would have allowed us to put on the show that everybody wants to see in Formula One. We wanted to go racing. It is a very sad day for this sport, I would have to say. I am so, so sorry for what we've done, because there was a way out. There was a way to create a solution to let us go racing. Yes, it wasn't the fault of Bridgestone that Michelin had a problem here, but we are all traveling the same circus together and we are all working together, and there has to be a compromise that allows a way of penalizing the Michelin runners and benefiting the Bridgestone runners because of the fault that Michelin had. But this extreme of not having cars on the racetrack, there are going to be a lot of people in Formula One turned away from the sport because of this." (About how he feels): "I feel terrible. I have a sick feeling in my stomach. I am embarrassed to be a part of this. I wish we could have found a solution that had us out here on the racetrack." (About what he would have decided): "I absolutely respect the instructions of Michelin. They are our technical tire partner. They understand how their product operates. Do I feel fear about running on this circuit with our tire? No, not at all. I am a racer. If I had fear in my body, then I wouldn't be out on a racetrack for starts. FIA said to me on the formation lap, 'Let's go racing.' I said when we pulled away from the grid, 'If it is turned to me to make a decision, then let's go racing.' But we have to respect Michelin. We have to respect the other teams for all standing by with their instructions, as well. What we have to be disappointed at is that we couldn't come to an agreement for the good of the sport. Forget whether Ferrari are getting 16 points here or not. And they may both blow up, and then you may see two Jordans getting first and second, so it's by no means guaranteed that they will get the points. It is just terrible that we ended up with this situation." (About how this affects the future): "This just sets a precedent that I guess we are going to see at other times in the future. It's unfortunate. There only are 10 teams. If we can't find a solution that is good for the sport ^Å The crowd there is wondering what in the hell is going on. It is embarrassing." (More on situation): "Michelin just produced a tire that wasn't capable of running on this track, and they held their hands up and acknowledged that. Then what we tried to do is find a solution and go racing. And despite all of Michelin's efforts to find a solution with the Speedway, FIA and the Bridgestone runners, the selfishness of some has been the cost of the majority. That's why the fans are showing their disgust by throwing things on the track, and I am very sorry for them." (About Ferrari's disagreement with nine other teams): "Ferrari's position has been very clear. They wouldn't accept the change. And I can understand their position. They've done a good job, had a good tire, and they come here and said, 'Why should we be penalized when others have screwed up?' But I think it is such an unusual scenario to have so many cars not able to go Grand Prix racing. If the next race only had six cars, would the same crowd turn up? No. You want 20 cars on the grid. So sometimes you put your own selfish interest to one side for the greater good. Not to just bash on Ferrari, but to not have FIA find a solution to mediate the sport in a way that could have happy people out there is very disappointing. Even if we do come back, half the crowd in the stands today won't be back. That's for sure. Terrible, terrible situations can be recovered and now having the mistake take place, it will be a question of what actions will be taken to do damage limitation." (About process): "The team principals were all issued a statement, or instruction, from Michelin that the tires are unsafe to compete in this race and therefore they would not accept any responsibility for any team competing if there wasn't an introduction of a chicane. So the team principals, armed with our letter, could not ask their drivers to go out and race with a known fault because of all of the legal issues of the car crashes, if a car goes into the crowd. So that's why there was a move to go and find a solution from FIA to allow a safe scenario. Give Bridgestone and Ferrari all of the points because they deserve it. They've done a better job this weekend, but once they give them all of the points, let's go and put on a show. It doesn't have to be an absolute wheel-to-wheel battle because WWF survives quite well out here with an element of show business involved. But what you have here is a joke. I'm disappointed, but I respect the team's decision, and I respect Michelin's position. All I was clarifying with the team is don't take a decision on my behalf if I can be part of the process. If you want me to be part of the process, I am going racing. If it's not a decision that is influential in that, then I will respect what they have decided. It's a credit to all of the Michelin teams that they stuck together."
BERNIE ECCLESTONE (Chief executive officer, Formula One Management Ltd.): (What is your feeling for the fans?): "I feel sorry for them."
TAKUMA SATO (#4 Lucky Strike BAR Honda): "I feel very bad for the people who came here to support today. Sorry." (Did you want to race given the conditions?): "Of course, everybody wanted to race."
PAUL STODDART (Team principal, Minardi F1 Team): "First of all, our sincere apologies go out to the race fans, both here at Indianapolis and indeed, around the world, for the farce that took place at Indianapolis this afternoon. This really was a time when Formula One needed to put sport above politics, but sadly, this did not occur. Earlier on today, nine of the 10 competing teams had agreed that, in the interests of safety, a temporary chicane needed to be placed before the final turn, and that unless that took place, the nine teams would not compete. This idea was rejected by FIA President Max Mosley, and in no uncertain terms, the teams were told that, should this occur, there would be no race. This, in my opinion, is clearly not in the interests of the sport, the American public, or Formula One fans around the world. I have complete sympathy with the Michelin teams, and can take neither satisfaction from, nor interest in, this afternoon's race, if you can call it that. For the avoidance of doubt, Minardi only participated when it became clear that Jordan had changed its decision to compete from this morning. I sincerely hope that valuable lessons are taken away from here today before we destroy the sport we love with politics. A solution, which would have allowed the United States Grand Prix to have proceeded unaffected today existed, but was resisted by the FIA and not supported by Ferrari, who claimed it was not their problem."
JENSON BUTTON (#3 Lucky Strike BAR Honda): "It's disappointing that we can't race, but we're not going to race if it's not safe." (About the fans): "It's very disappointing for them, I'm sure. They have to realize that if it's not safe to drive, we have to be careful because we're traveling at high speed. There's not much we can do about it. We can't do much. We have to think about our safety first."
FLAVIO BRIATORE (Team principal, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team): "We said we didn't want to race with this situation like this. We wanted a chicane, and it would take less than one hour to put that in and make everybody happy. (What message to the Indianapolis fans?): "Only that I am sorry, I'm sorry for the fans, but there was no question for us to race here." (But how can a multi-million pound sport that that travels around the world has global exposure find itself in this situation?): "Sometimes you have a problem with a car, you break the suspension, and you tell the driver come back to the garage. This was a technical problem, and we needed to sure the problem was cured, but all we asked for was a different configuration this year, that was possible to change." (So why did that not happen?): "You need to ask the Federation." (We have reports that some fans are throwing things onto the track): "We are sad, our mechanics are sad, the drivers are sad we want to race, we want to race. We don't care if Ferrari started up front. We wanted to race for no points."
NORBERT HAUG (Vice president, Mercedes Benz Motorsports): "We took the decision. We offered a compromise that was not possible. We would have liked to have raced for the spectators especially, but this is not the case which said. We just followed the advice of our tire partner, Michelin, and if they had safety concerns we cannot race. We offered a compromise that was not possible. That is why we have a race with six cars right now." (Will this hurt Daimler-Chrysler in America?): "No, everyone will understand if there are safety concerns. We cannot influence that. We have a partnership with Michelin, and I find it very brave of them to say we have some concerns and react accordingly." (Will there be legal issues with IMS CEO Tony George?): "We cannot race if we have tire problems. That is quite obvious. It is sad. We offered a compromise, which wasn't taken. I understand the rules are the rules, but at least we tried to find a way to do it."
TSUTOMU TOMITA (Team principal, Panasonic Toyota Racing): "First, we would like to apologize to all the race fans and sponsors watching, both here and around the world. We are sorry to have to take this decision, particularly in the light of Jarno Trulli's pole position here yesterday. But the safety of our drivers always has to come first. After a detailed explanation of the tire problems encountered this weekend, we could not legitimately send our drivers out for a race distance. Therefore, we did not race either car this afternoon. We look forward to returning to the track at the French Grand Prix in a fortnight."
NICK HEIDFELD (#8 BMW WilliamsF1 Team): "Basically, Michelin took the decision that it was too dangerous. It is very unfortunate for all of us, especially for the spectators. I am sorry, but we didn't have a choice. This decision was made on the grounds of safety. They do not want to hurt any drivers, and they do not want to hurt any spectators. It is very bad, but at least we do not try to kill anybody. There was a problem on one of our tires. Only a small one, but we didn't know how it would be if we were to continue. There were a lot of problems on the other cars. We have seen last year how bad it can be. In the end, it was simply Michelin's decision. They are our partners, and they advised all the teams that it would not be safe to run and asked us not to do it. To be honest, I think this is a disaster for Formula One in the United States. As drivers, we would have liked to drive, but there is nothing we could have done from the driver's side."
MARK WEBBER (#7 BMW WilliamsF1 Team): "The long and short of it is that we are not prepared to do the race from a safety point of view. We are drivers, and we want to go, but it is not safe for us. There is no gray area with this situation. It is either working or it's not. That's the problem with us. There is so much unchartered water that we don't know where the tire is. Hopefully we can come out the other side of it. We have seen bad days before, and we have come out the other side. We have to move on."
SAM MICHAEL (Technical director, BMW WilliamsF1 Team): "We are extremely sorry to all the fans that turned up today to see a race. We are all racers, as well, but unfortunately we could not deliver today. It was too much risk to us. We had an instruction from Michelin, our tire supplier, this morning to say that the tires in the current circuit layout were not safe to race. They would not condone us racing on them. At that point the only way they would condone it would be if Turn 13 was slowed down through the use of some sort of chicane. That did not happen. So we took the grid and the formation lap for the fans so they could at least see the cars and the drivers on the grid, and after formation lap we had to come into the pits. We could not put the cars in a racing situation. Unfortunately we can't risk the drivers' lives. It is a mistake for Michelin. We've tried everything over the last 18 hours, since last night, to try and get some sort of compromise where we could race for the fans. It did not happen, so we had to withdraw the cars after the formation lap. We are extremely sorry to all the fans that turned up here to see a Grand Prix. We are all racers. We want to race, but we could not do it today. I'm sorry." (What would have been a realistic compromise?): "The compromise that we suggested was to put a chicane at the entry to the pit lane. It has been done before. It was done in Barcelona, in '94, with no problems at all to run with the chicane. That was the compromise we offered. We also offered, because it was a Michelin problem, and not a problem for Bridgestone, we offered that all six Bridgestone cars would take the top six grid positions and Michelin drivers would form up in their qualifying order from seventh place down. That was the offer that we made, and it was rejected."
PATRICK FRIESACHER (#20 Minardi F1 Team): "It was quite bad because only six cars were on the grid. It's a shame for the sport, I think, and really not good for Formula One. At then end it was bad, really bad for the sport." (We knew about the Michelin teams) early this morning because they wanted to put the chicane in the last corner, and I guess nine teams agreed to it and one team didn't agree, and it was decided. We knew the Michelin tires, they already said, that they can not do more than 10 laps."
JARNO TRULLI (#16 Panasonic Toyota Racing): (How do you feel?): "It's a shame for Formula One, in general. But we couldn't avoid this situation. We all knew all Michelin teams to run and finish the race was too dangerous. I think that today Formula One and the sport as one somehow we didn't give the show to the USA people and supporters. But that's life. Sometimes these things can happen." (Did you personally feel safe enough to stay out there?) "It's not a question if to feel safe or not to make a decision. We have analyzed data, and Michelin has analyzed data. They felt we were in danger today. So it was as simple as that." (What did you feel when you were told that you were not to race?) "I feel that the decision for us not to race is sad. But it had to happen here in Formula One as we all knew we were in danger for us as a team, as a driver, and for the spectators and was too dangerous to race. So we had to stop. It is very unfortunate in front of the USA people, but these things happen." (If this decision was up to you what would you do?): "No you cannot race. We were in danger. It's so clear, it's also written in the rules, when it is not safe you cannot compete in a competition. It's very unfortunate that it has happened here in the USA and really sorry for all fans and supporters. But we tried to avoid this situation, but unfortunately other teams regularly stand up and say, 'No, we cannot accept anything else rather than the normal rules,' and this is how it ended up." (How badly do you feel for the fans who have spent thousands to come here?): "It's really bad and hope we can recover from it and try to do something. We have done it not only for us as a team, as a driver, but also for them. For the fans, because they don't want to see drivers crashing into the walls or taking too many risks. It's already enough risk in Formula One, in motorsport in general, and the reason was calculated: We had a problem with the tires." (How frustrating is it to know that you were on the pole and now do not have the ch ance to just get out there?): "In general as a driver, I'm frustrated not to be driving today. But we have to understand the situation, that there was a danger." (Are you frustrated with Ferrari at all because if they would have gone along with the chicane you would be racing right now?) "No, I think we cannot claim Ferrari as the guilty. Ferrari was right where they expect the rules were clear from the race director. That's the rules. If you cannot race, you do not race." (Thoughts on what message is being put across here) "I think Formula One has sent the message that there more sensible priority to be safe, and today we prove that we're sensible people. Someone has made a mistake, and we are sorry it every and all fans that we couldn't race." (Who took the ultimate decision on not to race?) "The team managers just took the decision with all things together. It was very clear that it was unsafe and that we couldn't race. But I am really sorry for the USA fans because they came to support us and see our show. But it was a very important situation." (When was the decision come down that you were not going to race?): "When we were leaving the grid, basically." (What could have been done to keep this from happening? This morning was it just too late?): "Yes, it was just too late. Unfortunately, we tried very hard but didn't succeed. The rules are very clear and just respected the rules." (How big could the negative impact be as far as the American fans toward Formula One?): "As much as a Indy Car doesn't run during a wet condition. Today we were unsafe and didn't run."
CHRISTIJAN ALBERS (#21 Minardi F1 Team): "Yeah, of course, it is not really good for Formula One. Also you have to be fair in life. Michelin has always had some advantages to Bridgestone. I think they were always a little bit maybe on the limit. I don't know. I have no clue. The Michelins were not strong enough for here, and the Bridgestones were strong enough, so you have to give Bridgestone the advantage. This is the result. What shall the teams be really glad with? Even when it is not good for Formula One. But this is life." (Any issues with Turn 13?): "No, not at all. It was no problem for us. We had a really good weekend." (About today's effect on future F1 races): "I think that a lot of people just learned a lot from this and from the mistakes. We have to see what's going on later on."
JOINT STATEMENT FROM ALL TEAMS USING MICHELIN TIRES (Lucky Strike BAR Honda, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, BMW WilliamsF1 Team, West McLaren Mercedes, Sauber Petronas, Red Bull Racing, Panasonic Toyota Racing): "The Michelin teams deeply regret the position that they have been put in today and would like to apologize to all the spectators, TV viewers, Formula One fans and sponsors for not being able to take part in today's USA Grand Prix. Following Ralf Schumacher's accident on Friday morning, we were advised by Michelin that none of the tires that were available to the teams could be used unless the vehicle speed in Turn 13 was reduced. Without this, Michelin did not consider the tire to be safe to be used for the race. All the teams are confident in Michelin and trust their advice as we know they are competent and responsible and their written instruction to us not to race unless changes to the circuit were made was accepted. All final data from Michelin became available at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning it became clear that Michelin were not able to guarantee the safety of the drivers. Numerous discussions and meetings took place to find a safe solution to the problem. Every possibility for the race to go ahead in a safe manner was explored. The only practical solution was for a chicane to be installed prior to Turn 13 and nine of the teams were prepared to run under these conditions even forgoing championship points or by allowing non-Michelin teams to take top positions on the grid. Unfortunately, all proposals were rejected by the FIA. Safety is always the first concern of any team and the FIA. Regrettably, the teams were obliged to follow Michelin's requirements not to race. We are totally aware that the USA is an important market for Formula One, and there is an obligation for Formula One to promote itself in a positive and professional manner. It is sad that we couldn't showcase Formula One in the manner we would have liked today."