Why did 2005 F1 US Grand Prix feature only 6 cars in the race?

Only Ferrari, Minardi, and Jordan drivers race as the teams with Michelin tires all come into the pits to retire after one lap during the 2005 F1 United States Grand Prix. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Only Ferrari, Minardi, and Jordan drivers race as the teams with Michelin tyres came into the pits to retire after one lap during the 2005 F1 United States Grand Prix. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

The 2005 F1 US GP was one of the most bizarre open-wheel races in the history of motorsports. In that season, there were ten teams competing against each other. However, only three of them were allowed to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The reason for that is both mind-boggling and intriguing.

In 2005, there were two manufacturers that provided tyres to F1 teams: Bridgestone and Michelin. Each F1 team was meant to choose their tyre manufacturer and stick with them for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, Michelin tyres were unable to handle the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

When the teams took part in the free practice sessions, several teams using Michelin tyres encountered issues. Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher, who was in a Toyota at the time, encountered a horrendous crash because the left rear tyre of his car failing.

Michelin later discovered that turn 13 of the track, the famous banking curve, was putting unusually high amounts of pressure on the tyres, causing them to fail. Although they ordered another set of tyres with different specifications from their Clermont-Ferrand headquarters, those new tyres were also failing.

After figuring out the issue, Michelin representatives Pierre Dupasquier and Nick Shorrock sent a letter to FIA race director Charlie Whiting regarding possible solutions.

They mentioned how the cars could not run more than 10 laps if they did not slow down in turn 13. Furthermore, they also suggested adding a chicane on the turn to decrease the load on the tyres and allow the other seven teams to race.

However, the FIA refused to make any of these changes and was surprised that Michelin had not prepared their tyres according to the track. Whiting mentioned in his response that adding a chicane right before a race is simply not possible and would be fair to the teams using Bridgestone tyres.

Eventually, all team principals decided that the teams using Michelin tyres could do the formation lap but not participate in the race. That left Ferrari, Jordan-Toyota and Minardi to race against each other. Michael Schumacher won the race, while his Ferrari teammat, Rubens Barrichello came in second.

Pirelli willing to continue supplying tyres for F1 and feeder series

Pirelli recently released a statement addressing the FIA's invitation to participate in a process to determine which manufacturer will supply tyres to the top single-seater championships.

The Italian tyremakers wrote that they will be reviewing all the details in the invitation and decide whether to participate or not. The statement read:

"The FIA has now published the invitation to participate in the next tender process for the supply of tyres oto the top single-seater championships – FIA Formula One World Championship, Formula 2 and Formula 3 – for the three year period from 2025-2027 (with an option for 2028).
"The framework described by the FIA is closely aligned to Pirelli's motorsport strategy and so is of great interest. A definitive decision about Pirelli's participation in the selection process will naturally be taken after a detailed examination of the FIA's document."

There have been several reports that F1's former tyre supplier, Bridgestone, might make a return to the sport after 2024. If that happens, Pirelli will face competition for the first time in 13 years.

Quick Links

Edited by Bhargav
Be the first one to comment