Ecclestone: Not Racing was Right Choice

Formula One may have had a lucky escape in not having a proper race at Indianapolis this month, Bernie Ecclestone said on Friday

Ecclestone: Not Racing was Right Choice

The commercial supremo suggested the sport could have found itself dealing with the aftermath of a fatal accident rather than the fallout of a fiasco that dismayed fans worldwide.

"I'm pleased in a lot of ways that we didn't (insist on having a race)," he said at the French Grand Prix, Formula One's first outing since the tyre crisis that left just six cars competing in the June 19 US event.

"Maybe those tyres wouldn't have lasted with a chicane or two chicanes. Maybe the tyres were just not up to it. I think we could easily have lost somebody there so maybe we got lucky," he said.

The seven Michelin-equipped teams withdrew after the formation lap in Indianapolis because the French company said it could not guarantee the safety of their tyres following crashes in practice.

A request for a temporary chicane before the final high-speed banked corner that was causing the problems was rejected by the governing body.

Team Meeting

Bosses of the seven teams held an impromptu briefing for the media outside the Michelin motor home at Magny-Cours after practice on Friday to clarify the events.

McLaren's Ron Dennis, acting as a spokesman, said the option of racing simply had not existed after Michelin analysed the tyres used in practice and qualifying.

"Every effort was made by the teams to find a solution as it was by Bernie Ecclestone," he said.

"The simple fact is that the teams put safety before any commercial consideration and that was a point that was obviously clearly appreciated by the drivers.

"At the point at which we were faced with a decision and were trying to find solutions, the option of racing did not exist."

Ecclestone, who was a key figure in talks right up to the last minute between the teams, the sport's governing body and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, agreed.

"In the end, and with hindsight even more so, the bottom line was there were no options," he said.

The 74-year-old Briton, publicly apologising to the fans, complimented Michelin for their decision to refund the cost of the tickets bought by the 120,000 crowd and to buy 20,000 tickets for the 2006 race, although he had hoped for more.

"I'd sort of more or less thought they were going to do better. We'll see. We'll try and see if they can sharpen their pencils," said Ecclestone.

"They have stood up like men and said we made a mistake and we're prepared to pay for it," he declared. "But really there weren't any options. If there were, we'd have taken them."

Asked what good might come out of the fiasco, Ecclestone said: "You have to look for the good in everything, even in the bad you look for the good. There's nothing really positive except the fact that we've probably all learnt a lot of lessons. And we're well known in America now."

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Series Formula 1
Author Alan Baldwin
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