Team boss Peter Sauber spoke after the US Grand Prix to explain what had happened... Q: What is the team spirit like following this curious race? Peter Sauber: It is strained. I would describe the race as curious - what took place was a drama.
Team boss Peter Sauber spoke after the US Grand Prix to explain what had happened...
Q: What is the team spirit like following this curious race?
Peter Sauber: It is strained. I would describe the race as curious - what took place was a drama. We have to apologies to all of the viewers here, and to the millions of fans - who are all very important to us - who follow Formula One from their homes.
Q: What led to the Michelin teams pulling out of the race?
PS: Following Ralf Schumacher's relatively serious accident on Friday, Michelin discovered that it was caused by the tires. Michelin then began intensive research and came to the conclusion that we could not follow through with this race, unless we slowed down. Naturally, we decided to follow their recommendation.
Q: Did the relatively strict security and liability laws of the US also play a role?
PS: No. We would have reacted the same in other country. The security of the drivers is number one for all of the teams. We were all agreed that we could not drive with these tires unless the race course was slightly altered. It would have been possible to build a chicane in turn 13, which is a steep face curve. Doing this would have mitigated the entire course, and the maximum speeds would have considerably reduced.
Q: Why weren't these measures implemented?
PS: We, along with all of the Michelin teams, put this solution forward to the FIA, but it declined. Instead, the FIA suggested its own solutions, which would not have worked. In fact, they would have created new dangers.
Q: Was there no way around this impasse?
PS: No, despite the fact that nine of the teams went back in this morning to request the creation of the chicane. In other words, two Bridgestone teams, Jordan and Minardi, went along. Various telephone calls took place between the team bosses and the FIA head, Max Mosley. Although I can't say in detail what was discussed, the results were always negative. The fact that it was not permissible to make a simple change that would have made it possible to follow through with the race, is a disgrace for Formula One here in America.
The seven Michelin teams were in agreement that the Bridgestone cars, the two Ferraris, two Jordans and two Minardis, could start from the lead positions in the grid. We were even prepared to default on all points for this race. The finishing results would have been exactly the same as now, but at the least the fans here and in their homes would have seen an exciting race.
Q: What consequences with this decision have on the image of Formula One in the US?
PS: I'm not sure what has been damaged here in the US. But, I do very much sympathize with Tony George, the organizer of this race. He along with Bernie Ecclestone, brought Formula One back to the US and provided us with a fabulous infrastructure. This is a slap in the face for him. Ultimately, he is responsible for the high ticket prices that fans had to pay for what became a Bridgestone tire test. I can't judge what consequences this will have in the US and in Indianapolis.
Q: And outside of the US?
PS: I don't think that this will leave a negative impression in Europe or other continents, or at least not a lasting one. Formula One is such a strong, global sport that it can stomach a blemish like this.
Q: Can you understand why the Bridgestone teams chose to race?
PS: I don't wish to comment on this.