By the time you're reading this, the FIA will have held its disciplinary hearing for the seven Formula 1 teams that withdrew from the American Grand Prix. A bit like being disciplined for being an innocent bystander to a 'crime' committed by the judge.
The root cause was of course Michelin's doing and they can stand accused of technical error. Any more than that is wholly against the very ethic of racing, like disciplining a driver for a failed passing manoeuvre.
We're dealing with competitors here. The reason the Michelin tyre wasn't suitable for the loads imposed by the banked Turn 13 was because of how it adapted its design pre-season to retain performance in the new one-set-per-race regs. Having to go harder on compound to make the tyre last, it sought to claw back the grip from a yet more flexible sidewall and it was this universal construction that was the problem at Indy, regardless of compound. With hindsight, the design wasn't modelled properly for the demands of Turn 13, but that's a misjudgement, not a crime. Like the driver who leaves his braking too late trying to overtake.
As for disciplining the teams for withdrawing, what serious alternative did they have? Max Mosley says there were two options, which the teams chose not to take. One was to run at a Michelin-restricted speed on the banking, up high out of the way.
How to ensure the drivers stuck to the Michelin limit (these are competitors, remember)? A pitlane speed-limiter set at 120mph (the speed at which it's believed the tyres would've been safe to run through that turn)?
So you have Fernando Alonso chasing Kimi Raikkonen, sitting right on his gearbox, looking to get a run on him as they come out of the restricted area. As they approach the line denoting the start of the limited section, Kimi brakes hard from 170mph.
What are the chances of Alonso reacting in time at that speed and distance? What are the chances of every dicing Michelin-shod driver doing so for 73 laps? And what would be the consequences of one car riding up over another at that speed? And that's disregarding the horrendous safety issues of mixing these cars with nearby Bridgestone-shod ones still running through the turn flat-out.
The other suggested alternative was for the Michelin cars to run through the pitlane every lap, with their speed limiters on. That would've been almost as big a farce as the one we actually saw: two sets of teams racing on what were effectively two different tracks.
Racing with a chicane and with some sort of draconian penalty (perhaps a one-minute stop/go within the first three laps) imposed on the Michelin teams - in order that Ferrari/Bridgestone retained their rightful advantage for having brought suitable tyres - would have best satisfied the many conflicting requirements here. But the FIA chose not to take it.
To have altered the circuit by imposing a chicane would have been against the FIA's own sporting regulations. But strict application of the letter of the sporting law is entirely inappropriate here. It's losing sight of what the sport is there for. It's holding the fans in contempt, treating them as an inconvenience in an academic debate about right and wrong.
And if you want to get into philosophy, right and wrong themselves are relative concepts, relative to the surrounding circumstances. If you narrow the definition, it's wrong to hold the race to regs other than those laid down in the statutes. But open up the definition and it's wrong to rip off 150,000 paying fans.
Which is the bigger wrong? One's sporting, the other's general. Sometimes there isn't a 'right' and you have to settle for the best compromise. As a philosopher once said, truth is usually between two points of a paradox.
There was an infinity of better compromises than the one the fans got. Each of them would have involved aggravation; it would have been necessary to hold an additional practice session so that teams could work out the appropriate brake ducting, for example. But given the situation, so what?
As the FIA's race director, Charlie Whiting was absolutely correct in his sporting interpretation of the situation. But he's in charge only of the sporting side. This was a far bigger issue than that. It was when the ball was placed in Max Mosley's court that the compromise solution should have come about.
Many times in the past, regulations have been pushed through by the FIA on the safety ticket that wouldn't otherwise have got through. That was 'wrong' from a sporting perspective, but arguably for the 'right' reasons. So why, at the critical time, get all purist about the sporting regs here? Safety would have been the perfect justification for making an exception to the sporting rules.
It may be claimed that the tyre company had to be penalised harshly in order to ensure that no supplier ever again brings an event crashing to a halt. But the horrific PR for a tyre company with a tyre whose safety couldn't be guaranteed will surely have done that automatically.
When working through all the arguments it's hard to avoid the conclusion that there was insufficient will to find a workable solution. Why that might have been is another story entirely. What if the seven teams hadn't shown up?