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Michael Schumacher wins boycott-hit US GP
June 20, 2005 01:36 IST
Last Updated: June 20, 2005 10:43 IST
World champion Michael Schumacher won an empty victory at the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday after only six cars started the race because of a fiasco over tyre safety.
Seven of the 10 teams pulled out after the warm-up lap. Their demand for an extra chicane to slow down the cars because of concern over the durability of Michelin's tyres was not met.
Germany's Schumacher claimed his first win of the season ahead of Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello of Brazil, both on Bridgestone tyres. They were never troubled by the much slower Jordan and Minardi drivers who trailed in their wake.
Loud boos rang out from the stands at the Brickyard track, which were packed with an estimated 120,000 spectators, during and after the race. Many fans had left before the end.
"This is going to leave a long-lasting bitter taste in people's mouths," Red Bull driver David Coulthard told Britain's ITV television. "Quite frankly, as a driver, I'm embarrassed to be involved in this situation.
"The fact is that mature adults were not able to put on a show for everybody. It's a very sad day for racing."
The sport's governing body ruled out the chicane while champions Ferrari were also against the idea. The six cars that started the race were those on Bridgestone tyres.
Schumacher's younger brother Ralf of Toyota was forced to miss the race after crashing heavily in Friday's practice when his rear left tyre suddenly deflated on the high-speed banked final corner before the pit straight.
"It's a big frustration for the whole team, the drivers, for Formula One in general, especially in front of the U.S. fans," said Italian Jarno Trulli who had taken his Toyota to pole position but never started.
"But we couldn't avoid this situation -- we were in danger and we knew it. It was very clear that Michelin runners couldn't race today."
Formula One has played second fiddle in the United States to other forms of motor racing including NASCAR and team officials warned Sunday's events would badly damage the sport's reputation among American fans and sponsors.
Live television showed cans on the track, apparently thrown by disgusted fans.
"It's frustrating. The fans out there were all looking forward to this race," said Austrian driver Christian Klien. "It would have worked if the chicane had been built. But it wasn't done and if the tyres won't hold up you can't race."
Williams technical director Sam Michael said new tyres brought in by Michelin from France overnight after failures in practice on Friday had been ruled out after tests by the company.
"The only solution is to have the chicane...if that happens, Michelin will approve the tyres to race. They will not give approval otherwise," Michael said 90 minutes before the official start of the race.
The drivers in cars with Michelin tyres took part in the warm-up lap before being ordered by their teams to pull into the pits. They sat in their cars for a few minutes before getting out.
Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One's supremo, will come under huge pressure over the farcical "race" although he pointed the finger of blame firmly at Michelin.
"You can't tell people to do something when their tyre company said you can't race on those tyres," he told reporters on the grid minutes before the race.
Asked about the future of Formula One in the United States, and the future of Michelin in Formula One, Ecclestone said: "Not good, on both counts."
Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said he had decided to race his two cars after Jordan broke ranks over the tyre issue.
"This is not a race, this is a farce," said Stoddart. "No one is going to take this race seriously today. Formula One have done some crazy things recently, this one today will have far-reaching complications.
"The wrongs start at the top."
Race Classification from the Formula One Grand Prix of United States:
1. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari 1:29:43.181
2. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Ferrari +00:01.522
3. Tiago Monteiro (Portugal) Jordan 1 lap
4. Narain Karthikeyan (India) Jordan 1 lap
5. Christijan Albers (Netherlands) Minardi 2 laps
6. Patrick Friesacher (Austria) Minardi 2 laps
ns. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota
ns. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) McLaren
ns. Jenson Button (Britain) BAR
ns. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Renault
ns. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault
ns. Takuma Sato (Japan) BAR
ns. Mark Webber (Australia) Williams
ns. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Sauber
ns. Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) McLaren
ns. Jacques Villeneuve (Canada) Sauber
ns. Ricardo Zonta (Brazil) Toyota
ns. Christian Klien (Austria) Red Bull
ns. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) Williams
ns. David Coulthard (Britain) Red Bull
(nc = not classified)
Fastest Lap: Michael Schumacher, 1:11.497, lap 48.