The 2005 US Grand Prix was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and is widely remembered as one of the most infamous races of all time. Prior to the race even starting, there was already considerable controversy.
During Friday’s practice, Toyota driver Ralf Schumacher crashed at Turn 13 because of left-rear tyre failure. The crash was bad enough to prevent Schumacher from racing that weekend, being replaced by Ricardo Zonta - who had also experienced a left rear tyre failure in practice.
Turn 13 was a problem the entire weekend. This turn was a high-speed banked turn, something that causes more tyre loading, especially since Turn 13 had been re-paved for the 2005 Grand Prix.
Turn 13 mainly affected the Michelin tyres, which in turn affected BAR (British American Racing), McLaren, Red Bull, Renault, Sauber, Toyota and Williams. In response to these failures, Michelin had replacement tyres flown in, but when tested, they still had the same Turn 13 problem.
Michelin stated to the FIA that they could not pinpoint the reason for the Toyota tyre failures and the drivers slowing down for Turn 13 was the only way they thought that the tyre failures could be prevented. Though, in the same correspondence with the FIA, Michelin also disclosed that there was no guarantee that the tyre life would last past 10 laps.
In response to the tyre issue, there were many alternatives tabled, mainly strategies to ‘punish’ the Michelin teams, as the other tyre provider, Bridgestone, wasn't experiencing any problems.
These suggestions included a predetermined speed for the Michelin teams at Turn 13 and a long stop/go penalty to ensure that no Michelin team would be able to challenge for a win or podium. Another suggestion was the Michelin teams going through the pit lane every lap to make regular checks and changes of the left rear tyres. However, this would lead to these teams passing the tyre allocations for the Grand Prix.
The biggest suggestion was the introduction of a chicane between the final corners in order to reduce the speed into Turn 13. This suggestion was tabled with the idea of the Michelin teams still taking stop/go penalties to prevent any of them from beating the Bridgestone cars but would also allow the entire field to race.
This proposal had the backing of nine of the 10 teams on the grid, with Ferrari not overtly rejecting the idea but stating that the decision should be left to the FIA. However, this idea was eventually rejected.