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Teams had driver backing for chicane 29 Jun 2005

All of the Michelin team drivers, plus those of Bridgestone-shod Minardi, signed a statement following the US Grand Prix, supporting their teams’ actions and explaining why they felt FIA suggestions for slowing cars through Turn 13 were unworkable.

The statement, which was signed by 19 drivers on June 23, was put forward by the Michelin teams in Wednesday’s World Motor Sport Council meeting. In it, the drivers said they felt a chicane to be the only safe way of slowing the cars, rejecting the FIA’s idea of imposing a speed limit on the cars in question.

The statement in full:

STATEMENT OF F1 DRIVERS REGARDING THE 2005 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX AT INDIANAPOLIS

The attached statement has been signed by the following drivers (in alphabetical order):

Christijan Albers
Fernando Alonso
Jenson Button
David Coulthard
Pedro de la Rosa
Giancarlo Fisichella
Patrick Friesacher
Nick Heidfeld
Christian Klien
Felipe Massa
Juan Pablo Montoya
Kimi Raikkonen
Takuma Sato
Ralf Schumacher
Jarno Trulli
Jacques Villeneuve
Mark Webber
Alexander Wurz
Ricardo Zonta

Introduction

1 We the undersigned drivers make this statement in order to assist the World Motor Sport Council in its consideration of the events at the Indianapolis Grand Prix on Sunday 19th June 2005.

2 We wish in particular to respond to the suggestion that we could have raced with a speed limit (which was never defined) somehow imposed through Turn 13 on cars with Michelin tyres, or that we should have raced but the ears with Michelin tyres should have slowed down voluntarily through this Turn.

3 This suggestion would have been an unprecedented restriction in and would have been completely contrary to the competitive Formula One or any motor race that we have ever participated have been unworkable, unpoliceable and above all, unsafe.

Safety

4 Not all cars would have been subject to the speed restriction. At least 6 cars would have been going through Turn 13 as fast as possible i.e. over 320 km per hour. The other cars - if they all complied - would have had to slow suddenly going into the Turn, travel at a much slower speed through the Turn and then accelerate back to racing speed.

5 This would have meant a huge speed differential between cars at the approach of Turn 13, during Turn 13 and exiting Turn 13. Having cars traveling at dramatically different speeds at the same point on the race track would have been completely chaotic and highly dangerous.

6 There is one good racing line through Turn 13. All of us would have tried to take that line. If a car subject to the restriction had to slow down, approaching Turn 13 on the racing line, a car behind it not subject to the restriction would have had to take avoiding action and try to overtake on the Turn off the racing line. This would have put both drivers at considerable risk.

7 Given the competitive nature of a race, the speed restriction would have become a focal point for overtaking. For instance two cars both subject to the speed restriction racing each other going into or coming out of Turn 13 would inevitably have each tried to gain advantage by braking later or accelerating earlier. With other cars racing through the Turn at higher speeds this too would have been chaotic and very unsafe.

8 Given the nature of a race there would also have been a clear incentive for drivers to maintain speeds above the restricted speeds, particularly if they were close in the race. This would have risked damaging the Michelin tyres which would have created yet further risks.

Practicality

9 The Teams would have been unable to fit a speed limiter which would have operated round Turn 13 in the time available. It would have been left to the Drivers to attempt to accomplish the speed restriction by themselves whilst still trying to race each other. Quite apart from the safety issues explained above, none of us think that it would have been possible for a Driver to do this.

10 Unlike in a pit lane (which has an obvious and clearly marked entrance and exit) there was no clear physical marker on the race track for where any speed limit should begin or end at Turn 13. In a pit lane, we race to and from well-defined lines, and we are aware precisely when to brake and when to accelerate so as to maintain race speed before and after the pit. In Turn 13, we would and could not have known when and where to brake and when and where to accelerate to achieve the speed restriction through the Turn. Each Driver would have had to make a judgment which would have been different on each lap depending on what was happening in the race. It would have been quite impossible for any of us to know each time whether or not we had maintained the speed restriction.

11 We also believe that it would also have been impossible for the Stewards or anyone else to tell at Turn 13 precisely when any car had slowed, and whether it complied with the speed limit throughout the restricted area.

12 For these reasons, we have no doubt that a speed restriction imposed at Turn 13 would have been impossible to comply with and impossible to police.

The day of the Grand Prix

13 On the morning of the Grand Prix, all of the Drivers attended a Drivers' briefing with representatives of the Teams. We were told of the Michelin tyre problem. Even though we all wanted to race, we accepted that the Michelin Teams could not go against the safety advice from Michelin and take the risk of serious and potentially fatal accidents.

14 We were also told of the proposal for a chicane at Turn 13. Chicanes have been successfully introduced in races in the past. We believe that a chicane would have been a perfectly workable solution in Indianapolis. Accordingly none of us objected to a chicane at the meeting.

15 Many of us were also consulted by our Teams about the FIA proposal for a speed restriction. Those who were consulted explained to their Teams that a speed restriction would not work because it would be dangerous and impractical (for the reasons set out above). The Teams in turn explained this to the FIA officials.

Conclusion

16 All of us wanted to have a proper race at Indianapolis, which is one of motor racing's most sacred venues, and to showcase Formula One to the American public. We are all extremely disappointed that we were unable to do this.