Indy Fiasco "to Turn Off US Fans"

Formula One can kiss goodbye to any hope of winning over American fans after Sunday's US Grand Prix fiasco, according to drivers and team officials

Indy Fiasco "to Turn Off US Fans"

Seven Michelin-equipped teams withdrew from the race for safety reasons after tyre failures in practice. They had asked in vain for an extra chicane to be installed before the circuit's final high-speed banked corner.

"Formula One is damaged, very damaged, maybe irrevocably so in North America," said team boss Frank Williams. "The teams are very deeply unhappy about the situation."

"It's terrible. It should never have gotten to this," Canadian Jacques Villeneuve told reporters as he walked out of the Indianapolis paddock, in casual clothes and suitcase in hand, with the race still going on.

Behind him, the crowd of up to 120,000 were booing and throwing empty bottles and cans against the wire fences.

"If I was a fan out there I would do the same," said the Sauber driver, a former Indy 500 winner and CART champion.

Asked how long it would take for the sport to recover from a race with just six cars, Villeneuve said: "In America, I don't think it will."

Briton David Coulthard, whose Red Bull team have considerable marketing interests in the United States, agreed that the sport was wounded.

"I think it's very damaging to Formula One," he said. "Obviously the foundations of it are issues over the tyre safety so ultimately the blame lies there.

"Of course it's less damaging than to see people getting hurt but people don't come to a motor race to see people getting hurt, they come to see cars on the track."

"I think it's a disaster for Formula One in the States," said Germany's Nick Heidfeld.

"It's very disappointing...as a racing driver you always want to drive," added the Williams man. "On top of that, it's very bad for the spectators at home and especially here in the States."

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: "It is not a great advert for Formula One at the moment and I'm sure all the teams feel embarrassed that we've not been able to be a part of it this afternoon.

"America is a massively important market for the majority of Formula One teams ... we came here to put on a show and unfortunately it hasn't happened."

Renault boss Flavio Briatore summed up the strangest afternoon in recent Formula One history.

"I'm sorry for the public, for the spectators, the people watching TV," he said.

"The fans are completely right (with their reaction). If this is a demonstration of Formula One, we need to do something, because it is not possible like that.

"It is not pink," he said, when asked how he saw Formula One's future in the US.

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