INDIANAPOLIS (June 20)—Uncertainty over the safety of their tires prompted seven Michelin-equipped teams to withdraw from the U.S. Grand Prix Sunday before it started, turning the event into a farce with only six cars—all Bridgestone-shod—taking the green flag.
Following two tire-failure-related crashes in practice and qualifying in turn 13 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway´s banked curve, Pierre Dupasquier, Groupe Michelin Motorsport director, notified race organizers that the firm had been unable to determine the "root cause" of the failures and therefore could not assure the teams using its tires that they could compete at race speeds safely.
Michelin and the affected teams suggested the organizers make temporary changes to the track—such as a chicane immediately before turn 13—to slow down the cars before they entered the curved straightaway, the fastest spot on the course.
The Federation Internationale de l´Automobile, the Formula 1 sanctioning body, and IMS, the race organizer, declined the suggestion. They said, "To change the course in order to help some of the teams with a performance problem caused by their failure to bring suitable equipment to the race would be a breach of the rules and grossly unfair to those teams which have come to Indianapolis with the correct tires."
Michelin, which supplies seven of the 10 F1 teams, apologized publicly for the situation, saying safety is the firm's No. 1 concern.
Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher won the race ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello.