Michelin Problems at USGP
I'm talking to people I know in
the tire industry soliciting opinions and comment about happenings
at the 2005 USGP. Here's my first thoughts.
Everyone in the racing world is aghast
at what occurred at the USGP in Indianapolis. Michelin supplied
their team "partners" with tires that failed catastrophically
in service at speed.
Not only did Michelin fail to supply
a tire capable of running reliably at this event but they then
showed not the least awareness of the word or spirit of the F1
"sporting rules" by demanding that the course be changed
to lower the possibility that their fast but unreliable tires
would fail. Bridgestone and Michelin have both had tire failures
at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the past but for 2005 Bridgestone
supplied tires that showed no problems.
What's most surprising is up until now
Michelin has been regarded as the most paranoid and secretive
but also the most analytical and technically competent of all
the tire manufacturers. They have (had?) the reputation for making
the best tires, both street and racing.
I'm not a fan of Max Mosley, the FIA
president, but I have to say he is, at the moment, the voice
of sanity in racing and anyone can follow his dealings with Michelin
and the F1 teams by going to the FIA
website. Click on F1 and read the press
Michelin's English F1 website is here. Click on News for their attempts to spin attention
away from their extraordinary actions at the USGP-supplying tires
that failed in use on track.
I especially like the last paragraph
in Max's June 29 press conference statement:
"You have seen the various exchanges
of correspondence, you have seen the letter that was sent this
morning to Mr. Edouard Michelin and you will have seen how they
said in their letters that they had no knowledge of the forces
on their tyres. And if I were not able to show that in a Michelin
letter then you would think that I had invented it, because it
is an extraordinary statement for them to make. They also said
that they could not guarantee their tyres wouldn't burst if used
under extreme conditions and that is of course exactly what Formula
One is. I think it doesn't need me to launch into an attack on
Michelin after what we have seen of them and what they can do
and their responses over the last ten days. The facts speak for
themselves. It is a disastrous performance and that company should
be deeply ashamed. I don't intend to go into the detail but I
certainly can if asked to do so."
If you have a copy of my book The
Racing & High-Performance Tire you can get an idea of
my frustration with tire companies by reading the introduction.
Starting on page 176 I wrote about the F1 tire war and include
an interview with Bridgestone's F1 Development Manager Hirohide
Hamashima. In that interview I asked Mr. Hamashima about Ruben
Barrichello's crash that day which could have been caused by
a tire failure at the same point that Ralf Schumacher's tire
failed three years later. Mr. Hamashima didn't tell me it was
a tire failure but he didn't lie either.