There are no winners in war


As the teams begin testing, in preparation for the forthcoming races in France and Britain, it would be easy to consign Sunday's United States Grand Prix to history and place in it the 'mistakes not to be repeated' folder.

However, much like an earthquake, the aftershocks that will surely follow Sunday's disaster will continue for some time, and may well result in further destruction.

With the announcement that the seven Michelin-shod teams that withdrew from Sunday's race must now face the World Motor Sport Council, there is serious concern as to what might happen.

Certainly, the seven teams are now as one, and each is equally responsible.

However, assuming they are found guilty of any of the charges, what might the punishment be? Are we to imagine that the teams could be excluded from another event. Surely that's not impossible.

How else can the World Motor Sport Council punish these teams, a fine?

The teams will have to stick together, and there is every likelihood that they will - as one - resist any form of punishment, thereby adding further to the FIA's problems.

Make no mistake we are seeing the opening gambits of a ferocious war, a battle that could kill off F1 as we know it.

What was needed on Sunday, was a leader, someone who could take the situation by the scruff of the neck and say; 'right, this is what you'll do'.

Up until this weekend, one would have presumed that this was Bernie's role, after all, he'd always kept everyone in line before.

Yet ahead of Sunday's 'race', it was clear that he was no longer in control, the children that he'd previously pulled into line with the threat of a clip around the ear were fighting back.

That even Bernie couldn't resolve the situation, speaks volumes not just of how bad the crisis is facing F1, but how lost the sport is.

What happened on Sunday is the most shameful thing we have ever witnessed in motorsport. We are not talking about fatal crashes, which are all to do with tragedy, we are talking shameful, as in lack of moral fibre, lack of respect for one's customers.

That seven teams chose to withdraw from the race - as one - was bad enough. And though we now understand the legal implications of completing the warm up lap, did the drivers have to wind-up the crowd by warming up their tyres, did the teams really need to work on the cars before they went off on that 'parady' lap.

Sunday's race should have gone ahead.

As soon as the tyre issue was known - on Friday - the discussions should have begun. Vested interests and politics should have been put to one side, and the wishes of the fans and the future of the sport should have taken preference over all else.

Someone - and not Paul Stoddart, sorry Paul - should have taken control.

The race should have been run, and then... days... weeks... months later, the arguments could have begun, the result amended, the points deducted. Nobody watching on Sunday really cared how the results might look in the history books, or end of season annuals, they merely wanted a race... on the day.

The fans, organizers, sponsors, broadcasters... seemingly even the teams and drivers wanted a race, so what was so bloody difficult about giving them one, and arguing the toss at a later date?

The six men that did compete were treated shamefully, and it is totally unjust that they were booed, and worse. These guys, like the other 14 drivers, were the pawns in a rather cynical game of chess.

The bottom line is that there were no winners on Sunday, everyone lost.

And let us all pray - though I very much doubt it - that sanity will prevail before this gets totally out of hand.

We have the makings of a war, and there are no winners in war.

Chris Balfe

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 21/06/2005
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