IMS to Review F1 Future at Indy

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood stated the Speedway is set to evaluate its future involvement with Formula One, saying he was "monumentally disappointed" with the day's events

IMS to Review F1 Future at Indy

The United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis was run with only six of the 20 cars, after the seven Michelin-shod teams withdrew from the race due to alleged safety reasons.

But Chitwoods criticised the various participants heavily, saying they did not come prepared to what should be a world class event, and he emphasized the IMS were "victimized" as much as the fans.

Q: Why was the decision made so late in the day?

Chitwood: "I wish I could answer that. We're surprised as anyone that this misfortune occurred today, and with the results we witnessed out on the track. We are as disappointed as we've ever been in hosting an event here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

Q: What are the options the Speedway may have with refunds for fans?

Chitwood: "We're going to analyze our situation, our position here. We're probably going to respond appropriately in the next coming days. There are a number of questions like that which we will have to sit down and look at and come up with a better response."

Q: What about asking FOM for return of sanctioning fee?

Chitwood: "We will be seriously looking at our position on the response we give in the next couple days as to the event and what's appropriate for us to do."

Q: Are you considering voiding the contract with Formula One?

Chitwood: "That's premature to be discussing that right now. What occurred today was something we were not prepared for. We invested a lot of time and effort in preparing this property for a world-class racing event. The inability to have control over the actions today ... to say it's a disappointment is an understatement. Everyone here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway prides themselves on producing world-class events. The fact we had no control over what occurred today is our greatest disappointment."

Q: Is this the darkest day in the Speedway's history?

Chitwood: "No one at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is proud of what occurred today."

Q: What was the issue with the tires?

Chitwood: "You'll have to direct that to someone with FIA, Formula One or Michelin."

Q: How does this affect motorsports in general?

Chitwood: "I think the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been doing a great job introducing this sport to America. We've been very aggressive in how we promote it. You can look at the activities we've done that are different than other Grands Prix, whether it's a Pit Walkabout, allowing fans on pit lane to see things, or tomorrow, hopefully we will have fans show up for our Drivearound, when they renew their tickets. If anything, we try to do our best job to promote it. Undoubtedly, this sets us back in all of our efforts or all of the gains we've made in introducing this sport to America."

Q: How does this affect the future of Formula One in the U.S.?

Chitwood: "I would say it is a major setback."

Q: Where do you lay the blame?

Chitwood: "Well, I can tell you this. We feel as victimized as the fans do in what they witnessed today. We had no control over the ability to stage an event. The people who had the ability to control things today were the FIA, Formula One and Michelin."

Q: Will you demand to have more control if Formula One returns?

Chitwood: "I think this point, before we even broach that subject, we need to evaluate or position. Then we can respond to what the future might be."

Q: When did you become aware of a potential problem?

Chitwood: "We were aware that Michelin had submitted a letter to the FIA last night. I think it was around 10 p.m. This morning, there were rumors that something was going to occur. We were not aware of what was going to happen on the grid today."

Q: Did you have the means to prepare a chicane before Turn 13?

Chitwood: "That decision was out of our control. That is something that was between FIA and Formula One and Michelin. It was out of our control. It did not get to our ability. That was something out of our control. We were not privy to that."

Q: What is your say on the safety issue?

Chitwood: "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway prides itself on safety. We have been a leader on innovations we have here, be it the SAFER Barrier or other things. I think there is a responsibility to be prepared for this event. We did our best in three weeks to convert from an oval track to a road course, and we were prepared for this event. I wish everyone had been prepared for this event."

Q: How much does the IMS pay the FOM for the contract for this race, for a full field, and how much is a full field to your understanding?

Chitwood: "At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we do not deal with specifics whether it's sponsors, sanctioning bodies or how we manage our events."

Q: f you were to control of the event, how would you have handled the situation?

Chitwood: "There's no reason to deal in hypotheticals. Needless to say, we would have loved to put on a world-class event today for the thousands of fans who showed up."

Q: Will you pay the entire sanctioning fee?

Chitwood: "As I mentioned earlier, we're going to evaluate our position, and in the coming days we will respond appropriately. Obviously, we are as disappointed over this event as anything that we've had in our history. We pride ourselves on giving fans world-class entertainment, and the inability to do that - something that was out of our control - monumentally disappointed."

Q: Do you think Grand Prix fans will want Formula One racing back in America next year?

Chitwood: "We have been committed for the last five years to a successful event here in America. We would hope that all of those things that we have done in the last five years aren't gone."

Q: Do you have any understanding for the fans' outrage, those who threw things on the track? Has that ever occurred during an Indianapolis Motor Speedway event?

Chitwood: "I'm not aware that it has ever occurred before. I'm not aware that we have had any event here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that occurred like it (2005 U.S. Grand Prix) did. To say that I sympathize with the fans - I've said it before - we feel like as much a victim as they do."

Q: A lot of upset fans today. What do you say to them, some who likely paid thousands of dollars to get here to see their first F1 race?

Chitwood: "We are as disappointed over today as we have been over any event. We pride ourselves on what we do, and that's to be an international leader in motorsports entertainment. Today had nothing to do with being a leader of motorsports."

Q: Where are you contractually with Formula One? Do you have another five-year contract, or are you under contract for next year?

Chitwood: "We'll be evaluating our position on what's going to happen in the future."

Q: Formula One has a checkered history in the United States; it has had many difficulties. Has Formula One finally put a gun to its head and pulled the trigger today?

Chitwood: "I'm not sure that anything that occurred today would help this event prosper."

Q: Are you aware of anyone in Formula One or any manufacturer blaming the track surface for the tire problem?

Chitwood: "I'm not aware of the racetrack being implicated in the problem out there."

Q: So it has not been implicated?

Chitwood: "No, it has not."

Q: Do you think the safety considerations could justify these actions? What do you think is the future of motor racing with such attitudes toward safety?

Chitwood: "Safety is very important here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, whether it's the NASCAR event, the Indy 500 or the Formula One event. We're the only organization I know of, who has taken great strides in providing a safer environment. You can look at the creation of the SAFER Barrier; you can look at the fact that the very first rear-view mirror was used during the 1911 Indy 500. We understand safety. But we also understand being prepared to provide fans who attend a world-class event ... obviously not everyone was prepared today, and I think that's inexcusable."

Q: Do you feel that the damage that was done today is repairable?

Chitwood: "I hope it is. I'm not sure; I hope it is."

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