Michelin’s role in Formula One is now in doubt after drivers quit the US race last weekend due to safety concerns over its tyres…
During a qualifying session, Toyota driver, Ralf Schumacher had a near fatal crash at the 13th turn of the Indianapolis Motorspeedway, which lead to his withdrawal from the US race.
After investigation it appeared that the Toyota, one of several teams under the tyre company Michelin, had serious trouble with its tyres.
Tests were carried out but the company were unable to resolve the problem, and on Saturday morning announced their tyres were, under no circumstances, to be raced with on Sunday.
The problem lay with the wall of the tyre; due to the extra load put on the left rear in the extremely fast banked final turn, the tyres were unable to remain in one piece after more than 10 to 15 laps.
Of the seven Michelin runners, five of them experienced failure, or close failures in practice.
Meetings were held with all involved after qualifying on Saturday and numerous suggestions were made as to how to enable a race to go ahead.
Michelin suggested flying new tyres out from France but this was turned down as it was in breach of at least five regulations.
The teams suggested a chicane be put before the final turn to slow the cars down but that was rejected by the FIA.
As a result, nobody knew what was going to happen as the lights went out for the parade lap.
As the cars came round to line up on the grid, all the Michelin runners pulled into the pit lane and retired from the race.
Six cars lined up on the grid; the two Ferraris, the two Jordans and the two Minardis.
Bottles of water and cans of beer were thrown onto the track in outrage as fans stamped out of the circuit demanding refunds loudly.
The embarrassment to Formula One organisers was immense and the future of the sport in America is now in serious doubt.
Senior officials at the Indianapolis Motorspeedway have said they will "have to review their situation" before deciding whether or not they will host another Formula One Grand Prix.
Fans, drivers, team bosses and management officials of the sport are all furious, each one blaming the other.
Bernie Eccelstone said live on television that the future of F1 in America and Michelin’s part in it doesn’t look good.
But Michelin have apologised and said they are "confident it will not effect their future in the sport" and that they "made the right decision".
Paul Stoddart, team boss of Minardi said the problem couldn’t be resolved because of "stupid politics" in the sport that got in the way of serving the fans.
Michael Schumacher eventually won the race, after a fierce battle with team mate Rubens Barrichello half way through which saw Barrichello go off but then recover.
Schumacher refrained from celebrating on the podium saying it was not the circumstances under which he wanted to win his first Grand Prix this year.
As a result he is now third in the championship, only three points behind Kimi Raikkonen, and Barrichello is fourth.
Ferrari are now joint with McLaren in the constructors championship.