One year after the infamous United States Grand Prix of 2005, it was unthinkable that a highly professional outfit like Michelin would arrive with unsuitable tyres again. Unthinkable but not impossible, for more inexplicable and disastrous mistakes have happened.
Thankfully, the most pessimistic premonitions did not materialise. Indianapolis 2006 will not be remembered as a classic, but it didn't have to be. A full grid of 22 cars starting the race was enough to put smiles on faces and soothe sweating palms.
However, the sighs of relief weren't just from Michelin, the race organisers, the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone's FOM. The fans, as well as the two main protagonists for both of this season's championships, had other reasons to feel relieved by late Sunday afternoon.
Ferrari teammates Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa lead the Renaults of Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella © XPB/LAT
For the fans, the sight of the Ferraris dominating while Fernando Alonso struggled along in the minor points placings gave a glimmer of hope that the reigning champion could well be extended down the stretch, and that we may still have a championship battle in the offing. Although there was also the sobering acknowledgement, by both Ferrari and Renault, that the unique Indianapolis layout had provided Bridgestone with just a single-race edge. Few expect Ferrari and Bridgestone to replicate their form at the next GP in France.