An F1 look back: The 2005 United States Grand Prix

Who remembers the 2005 United States Grand Prix?

Michael Schumacher at 2005 USGP (credit to Dan Smith)
Michael Schumacher at the 2005 United States Grand Prix (credit to Dan Smith)

As we head into the buildup for this weekends United States Grand Prix we have a nostalgia piece from our F1 reporter Alex Goldschmidt, looking back at the 2005 United States Grand Prix.

Tyres have made the headlines this season in 2013, but there was a time not that long ago where the 2005 United States Grand Prix was run stateside at the famed “Brickyard,” the Indianapolis Motor Speedway became one of the most infamous and controversial moments in the history of the sport.

Tyre wars had been commonplace for several years in Formula One, in the 2005 United States Grand Prix this was especially true. With both Michelin and Bridgestone competing to provide the best tyres possible for the teams to compete with. However, the events leading to the race itself were hit with moments that did not help fill the drivers with confidence, especially with the explosive moment that occurred with Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota during Friday’s practice, which forced the German to sit out the race weekend.

(credit to Rdsmith4)

(credit to Rdsmith4)

It didn’t help the teams that were using the Michelin rubber, as the track had new surfacing, which caused more tyre wear and degradation. This would be further enhanced as a result of tyre stops being omitted from the 2005 regulations.

The French tyre supplier was worried that the tyre compound would not stand up to the rigours of 190 miles of hard racing, which would put a lot of excessive strain on the tyres forcing further premature failures and putting drivers at risk of potentially severe injuries.

Michelin lobbied a request at the FIA to introduce a chicane at Turn 13, so as to assist in helping the tyres to last until the end of the race, but were met firmly with rejection from the governing body. So they were left with no other choice but to not take part in a race that could have potential repercussions for themselves and the teams if there was an incident that could have really caused a major headache for all.

So the three teams that were shod with Bridgestone’s finest, Scuderia Ferrari, Jordan F1 and Minardi, stayed on the grid until the lights went out after the formation lap, where all the other drivers headed into the pit lane to avoid any penalty from the FIA as a result.

So what was the fallout after the 2005 United States Grand Prix? It had a pretty negative effect on the popularity of Formula One throughout the USA in the mainstream side of things, as there was a heavy fall-out between the FIA and Michelin for the fact that the race still went ahead, even with the events at the circuit.

FOM’s Bernie Ecclestone was said to have stated that the teams were not at fault for what had happened, but the damage was already done when it came to the following year. Michelin had tried to repair a hole that would not be easily closed, no matter how much they tried, even with refunding ticket sales from the farcical race that had taken place, as well as sending out 20,000 free tickets for spectators for the following year’s race.

Michelin no longer provides tyres for Formula One, but still forges ahead with efforts in the World Endurance Championship as its most high-profile customer in motorsport, as well as categories throughout the motorsport world.

Health and safety is a paramount factor in the way motorsport is these days, no matter the category, but the slightest of oversights can make it difficult to make a comeback from potential disaster. It is true that it was a PR nightmare when the fallout occurred, but think of it this way, it could have been a lot worse if any of the drivers had been severely injured as a result.

But with the fact that the supplier had not potentially have thought that changes could have made to factor in the new regulations for 2005 could have been a failing that they may have looked over as a clear oversight. If only things had been different, but we wouldn’t have known anyway.

But the fact is that the American Grand Prix is now clearly alive and well after the 2005 United States Grand Prix fallout, as the penultimate round of the 2013 season happens this coming weekend at the Circuit of The Americas. Will Sebastian Vettel secure another win, or will someone knock him off his pedestal?

Did you enjoy our article on the 2005 United States Grand Prix?


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