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Race analysis - Ferrari's hollow victory 20 Jun 2005

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2005 and Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari F2005 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Race, Indianapolis, USA, 19 June 2005 Tiago Monteiro (POR) Jordan Toyota EJ15 celebrates third place. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Race, Indianapolis, USA, 19 June 2005 Patrick Friesacher (AUT) Minardi Cosworth PS05 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Race, Indianapolis, USA, 19 June 2005 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) Jordan on the grid. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Race, Indianapolis, USA, 19 June 2005 Williams pack their Michelin tyres away. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Race, Indianapolis, USA, 19 June 2005

Michelin's loss is Bridgestone's gain - in points only

Ferrari at least came to Indianapolis Motor Speedway expecting to challenge for a high placing, perhaps even a win. But for Jordan and Minardi, third and fourth, and fifth and sixth places were a dream.

For the yellow and black cars, the ‘dream’ came true. For everyone else, the United States Grand Prix turned into a nightmare.

Ferrari are never to be discounted, and with Michael Schumacher fifth on the grid and Rubens Barrichello seventh the Scuderia was in reasonable shape. But when all of the Michelin teams withdrew after the green flag lap, the race became a cakewalk for the red cars.

The only two problems centred on the need for Schumacher’s left rear Bridgestone to be replaced in his first pit stop, possibly as a result of a spectator throwing a beer bottle on to the track; and the near collision between the Ferrari drivers as Schumacher left the pits after his second stop and just beat Barrichello into the first corner.

Jordan had more worries, with Narain Karthikeyan’s Toyota engine smoking badly on the grid and during the first lap. It held together, however, and the Indian driver was able to chase team mate Tiago Monteiro home. For the Portuguese driver this was the zenith of his nine-race Formula One career, and despite the circumstances you could not blame him for celebrating his first podium.

The Minardis were both reliable, and Christijan Albers’ three-stop strategy ultimately proved more helpful than Patrick Friesacher’s two.

As all four of the drivers from third place downwards scored their first-ever championship points, Jordan leapt from zero to 11 points, one adrift of Sauber, and Minardi from zero to seven. BAR’s situation got even worse, as they remain on zero.

The biggest gain was Ferrari's. Their 18 point haul pushes them into equal second place with McLaren on 63 points, only 13 behind Renault with 10 races left.

As for the others runners, on a bleak day they issued a joint statement (see previous story) in which they expressed their regret over the position they had been put in after Michelin were unable to guarantee the safety of their tyres, and apologised to fans and sponsors for not being able to take part in the race.

The teams refused to blame the FIA for their withdrawal after the sport’s governing body declined their request to insert a chicane ahead of Turn 13. “Safety is always the first concern of any team and the FIA,” they said in their statement.

For their part, Michelin publicly apologised for failing to bring suitable tyres to the event, but stood by their decision not to race on safety grounds and thanked their teams for respecting that decision.

The FIA’s only public comment on the matter came before the start of the race, when it published Race Director Charlie Whiting’s reply to Michelin’s request to have speeds somehow reduced in Turn 13.

Regarding the potential insertion of a chicane, Whiting stated: “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 tyres.”

The FIA also outlined a number of other options available to the Michelin teams, including running more slowly in Turn 13, running new tyres and incurring a penalty, or repeatedly changing tyres, subject to valid safety reasons.

With those options deemed unacceptable by Michelin and their teams, there followed the bizarre spectacle of 14 cars peeling into the Indianapolis pit lane to retire at the end of the formation lap.

“Regrettably, the teams were obliged to follow Michelin’s requirements not to race,” ended the teams’ joint statement. “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.”

On that note the season heads back to Europe, with attention moving to the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours on July 3. Before then the teams will be testing in Spain and Michelin will be continuing their investigations.