Let me be the umpteenth person to get on my soapbox over the Formula One US Grand Prix last weekend.
By now you've heard all about what happened. The race was almost a total bust, with only six cars of the normal 20 competing, the others all backing out because of bad tires. None of those six was in contention for the championship (not even Ferrari) so the extended parade was a meaningless display that wasted everyone's time.
The controversy revolves around different opinions of what *should* have happened. Was racing just six cars the right thing to do? Should the race have ben canceled? Should a chicane have been added to T13 to slow the Michelin runners? Should it have been run as a non-championship race without points? Should the points have been handed to the Bridgestone teams but the race otherwise run normally? And so on...
The answer depends on one simple question: Is F1 racing entertainment or is it a competitive sport? Answer that, and you'll have the solution to any number of F1 dilemmas.
If Formula One racing is entertainment, then Sunday's "race" should have included a chicane so all 20 cars could run safely, even if it unfairly handicapped the teams that came adequately prepared with durable tires. The show must go on, and sometimes that means you have to change the sets, hire non-union musicians, and use understudies. Tony George and the staff at Indianapolis rented their track to put on a show but didn't get one. The audience got cheated and fans everywhere were disappointed. The decision to run just six cars was clearly a show-biz disaster.
But if you believe that F1 is competition, then Sunday's event was handled perfectly. Three teams showed up fully prepared; seven teams showed up with bad equipment. The latter seven couldn't compete but that's not the fault of the other three. If an athlete sprains his ankle on the way to the Olympics that's his tough luck. You don't postpone the 100-meter dash or arbitrarily change it to a hopping contest just to accommodate him. If one of the drivers had missed his flight to Indianapolis or caught a cold, he'd be out of the race. If one of the teams had misplaced all its tools, it would be out. As it happened, seven of the teams arrived with bad tires. Tough luck guys; we'll see you at the finish line.
It was terrible entertainment but fair competition. Was it what you wanted? That depends on what Formula One racing means to you.