Infighting and chicanery blighted the US GP but don’t expect a contrite Max Mosley…
While the action on the track this year has been the best we’ve seen in aeons, there have been political rumblings in the background as the future of Formula One has been debated. For the most part the real drama has gone on behind closed doors, but the US Grand Prix tyre debacle came like a bolt from the blue, sent shock waves through the sport and polarised the manufacturer teams in their ongoing struggle with Max Mosley.
In the days after the race there seemed to be confusion in some people’s minds as to who was responsible for what went wrong. Of course, Michelin created the initial problem through an unfathomable screw-up in its R&D department. The company has done nothing to escape its culpability, and from the start behaved impeccably in its dealings with the teams and the media.
The question of who could have resolved the problem — or at least exercised some degree of damage limitation — is another matter. The seven Michelin teams did their best to provide an instant solution and, in public at least, Bernie Ecclestone was on their side. The one man who could have helped craft a more elegant outcome than the one we had was Mosley. Of course a hurriedly introduced chicane would have been far from ideal, and rules are rules after all. But, given the exceptional circumstances, it could have happened. If Max had wanted it to.
From the off he adopted a confrontational stance. What angered the teams was that, far from seeking to protect them from the damnation that inevitably descended, the man who has overall responsibility for our sport added fuel to the fire. His hounding of Michelin, a great supporter of motor racing, was not very constructive.
Perhaps others have seen the light. Although the teams did not entirely escape censure in the World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris, the consensus is that Mosley emerged damaged. If he saw the Indianapolis fiasco as a chance to get one over on the teams, he was wrong.
It remains to be seen where Bernie fits in this delicate political game. The cynical view is that at Indianapolis he was playing for both sides, and perhaps didn’t do as much as he could have to get Ferrari on board. If he was, then it was a dangerous game, for he has lost some credibility. He failed to get the show on the road, and looked like an emperor with no clothes.
The key to what happens in the next few months is where Bernie’s loyalties ultimately lie. There are suggestions that in the aftermath of Indy he’s tighter with the teams than he was. Perhaps he has realised that a grand prix with two Ferraris and a few makeweights is not really a viable proposition…