Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Disappointing, disgusting, ridiculous, stupid…yet patriotic!

At 12:59 PM Central time, 20 cars that lined up at the starting grid started the engines, revved it up. The noise was unmistakable & all too familiar. It was my third formula 1 live race. The mechanics & team personnel started to leave the starting grid. The engines were still being revved up. The crowd whistled & cheered wildly in anticipation of a great race. At 1 PM, the green lights came on and the formation lap begun. We were on our feet. Everyone was standing up to get the best glimpse of the start. A start in Formula 1 is the highlight of the is like watching Sachin in full flow. It’s when the adrenalin is fully pumped up. The race is usually won or lost in the start. We were watching it from the grand stands (a.k.a the Penthouse), and were waiting for the formation lap to complete. As we turned right to see the cars coming back after the formation lap..the tifosy cheered widly since the Ferrari cars were coming first. But the cheers lasted just a second. We could now see a lot of the cars going in to the pit lane..not unusual for formula 1 (for cars to start from pit lane). But then the inexplicable happened, the cars headed right into the pits (except Mclaren, Mclaren Mercedes for some reason had both the cars in the pit lane & were working on them. After some time, they did call both the cars in). They did not even stop in the lane. It didn’t take too much of a time for f1 connoisseurs to understand that Michelin cars were out & it must have been a problem with the tires.

Whatever the problems, we were trying to understand what the fcuk was going on. We were robbed…robbed in broad daylight. But we didn’t know who the thieves were. By then, lap 1 had already started. The crowd booed & shouted ‘Bullshit’ with a middle finger salute aimed at anyone associated with F1. We did not know that this was coming our way…I heard from my friends later that there were rumors well before the race that this might happen. But you must remember that for spectators on the track, we had no access to live tv commentary or live came out of the blue & it came as a shock. We thought that the FIA were the culprits.

But now in hindsight, that I have read all the news..I must tell you this. The problem was caused only due to 1 party: Michelin. They screwed up & then decided to take the high road. Imagine this scenario…a fast bowler is charging at 150 mph & bowling. He bowls a no ball. The Batsman hears the no ball call & thrashes the bowler for a six. The bowler then consistently keeps bowling no balls…the batsman consistently keep hitting him for a six of every single no ball. Then the bowler & coach come up with a plan…they tell the umpire that the game is boring since the batsman is dominating so much, so they ask the umpire to redraw the bowling crease, they ask him to draw it two feet ahead of the existing line!. This is exactly what Michelin & the other 7 teams wanted to do. The track has been around for ages…f1 has been going on in this track for 5 years. The track has not changed even a wee bit. But, because they did not prepare properly, they wanted FIA to build a chicane. I will say the same that I said on the race.. “BULLSHIT”. To have come unprepared for this race was the fault of Michelin and ONLY Michelin.

Since the race, I have been hearing/reading many views on the fiasco. Yes, the spectators on track & off track have been cheated because of the in competency of Michelin. But then that is the beauty of sports, it is unpredictable. The forms of the players/team fluctuate on any given day. Isn’t this what sport all about? Thousands of dollars are spent on boxing matches..only for the opponent to be knocked out in the first 1 minute…games that are billed up as classics, have ended lopsided….Champions have pulled out from games in last minute & games have lost its luster. That’s the beauty of sports.

So stop the obituaries, punish Michelin..ONLY Michelin, I feel the teams with Michelin tires have already been punished. They have lost valuable championship points. Also with the way, qualifying process is set-up; they are screwed in Magny Cours (next race) as well. F1 is too big a sport to have one party holds it to ransom. The guilty must be punished & care should be taken so that this is not repeated and then the show will go on…(it might have some hiccups in US…of all the places it happened in US…where they have the least following & are trying to build up a base! ;-) Murphy’s Law! )

But hey, Hang on a minute, if you thought that this whole event was spoilt by the shenanigans of one stupid tire manufacturer…you are wrong…read on…

This race event, personally to me was one of the most satisfying. Not the race itself (the race was screwed, lets forget that), but the pre race events. What happened prior to the race was what dreams are made of. Having grown up watching f1 races & seeing German, Italian, English, Finnish…Brazilian flags, June 19th 2005 was the D-day when I could proudly wave an Indian Flag myself in the F1 circuit. Never ever thought that this would be possible! But it was not just me, what an Indian (‘desi’ as called affectionately ;-) crowd that had descended to Indianapolis to support India’s fastest man! Unbelievable crowd (what was even more surprising were the presence of the fairer sex..almost 25 – 30% of the Indian crowd!) AND all of them supporting Narain Karthikeyan & Jordan (yes, lots of them had Ferrari/Mclaren caps, tshirts, flags but their heart was with Narain). Cries of ‘Hindustan Jitega’ rented the air. It could have been a scene straight out of an Indo-Pak cricket match. India has arrived in the F1 circuit. We were not the size of the Colombian fans but we were certainly one of the noisiest crowd that day (just in case you did not know this. Indianapolis represents mini Colombia on the race day, they are second only to the tifosi’s in Indy)

Take a look at the pictures…

Narain was a revelation, as soon as he saw the huge crowd & the support; he crossed the pit lane & came down to the stands. It was an honest, spur of the moment reaction. Something that deserves a lot of praise. (a lot of superstars never acknowledge the crowd, but this was refreshing) None of the other drivers did this. Narain – Thank You. You made our day!

5 points for Narain. But he will be disappointed. The unwritten rule in F1 is that your success is benchmarked based on where your team mate finishes. Every formula 1 driver’s main objective is to finish ahead of his team mate. In that count, Narain will be disappointed.

Now, coming to the actual result, it could have been better… had Narain scored a podium…But then, if wishes were formula1 cars…:)


At Thu Jun 23, 02:22:00 AM EDT, Blogger ze rambler said...

Good on you - you got to see the 'race' - so what if it was a farce? So what did you pay for it? And were there many Indians from around the US? Great for India!

At Thu Jun 30, 11:23:00 AM EDT, Blogger tifoc said...

ze rambler ~ the ticket cost, lets leave it!... particularly since Michelin has offered to refund it! ;-)regarding ur second qs...yes..what a crowd!...this was my third grand prix (2nd in Indianapolis) & I have never seen anything like this.


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