Tony George, owner of the Indianapolis circuit, is scheduled to talk next Thursday about “The future of Formula One racing in the United States”. The Indy GP is guaranteed for 2007 but beyond that its continued existence is uncertain and the hope is that George will reveal his plans during his talk.
Much of the doubt surrounding the Grand Prix centers on the events of 2005, when only six cars participated after the Michelin teams withdrew following tire failures on the banked curve. Yet this seems very unfair when it is remembered that the problem was between the tire company and the FIA and it was not caused by the circuit owners. Had the FIA been more flexible in its dealing with the situation, the race would have proceeded as normal. Several solutions, all quite workable, were proposed by Michelin but the FIA rejected them all, insisting that the cars should run on the circuit as it was, even though it was clear that safety was compromised by the likelihood of tire failures. Their own suggestion, that the Michelin-shod cars should slow down for the banked corner, would have made the race as much of a farce as ultimately resulted.
I suppose that it could be said that the banked curve itself was the problem and remains so; it is true that it is the only such corner on the F1 circuits. But in previous years there have been no tire failures and 2005 was a case of Michelin getting their calculations wrong, surely an incentive for tire manufacturers not to repeat the mistake. Now that Bridgestone is the sole tire supplier to F1, any future problems with the corner will be shared by all teams (including Ferrari) and a suitable compromise could be worked out without difficulty.
It should also be considered that F1 is trying to expand its following in the US. If the sport is to run scared of one banked corner, it loses all credibility with Americans, since they are used to so much of their motor sports being held on banked ovals. It becomes important to the future of F1 in America that Tony George decide to continue with the GP, therefore, and he is definitely the man we want to hear from on the subject. All eyes on this coming Thursday.
Apparently there are several F1 teams that would like another GP in the States and I heartily approve of this suggestion. Ideally, such a GP would be held in the west since the east is already catered for and two possibilities spring to mind immediately. Please, Mr Ecclestone, could F1 go back to Long Beach? It is a wonderful street circuit and there were some great races there.
Or, failing that, what about Laguna Seca? Okay, it would need some work done to get it up to F1 safety standards but imagine the cars going through the Corkscrew. If anything will increase the fanbase in America, that would! And it was used for a demonstration run by the Toyota in 2006 so we know it’s possible…