ITV-F1 commentator Martin Brundle’s interview with F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone on the Indy grid made for compelling viewing, as our man tried to get to the bottom of what was going on amid the mounting chaos.
So we thought you’d appreciate it if we published a transcript of the exchange here on ITV-F1.com. Over to Martin (look out Jeremy Paxman!)…
Martin: Bernie, there’s nowhere to go now, is there – you’re painted in a corner. What are you going to do? You’re the promoter, we look like we might have just four cars starting this race...
Bernie: Well, it looks like there’s a lot more cars here, uh? I’m not the promoter either, but, no, they’re all here…
Martin: But I’m told that even the Minardis may peel off and come into the pits at the end of the warm-up lap and only four cars will come down the start line. They may all be here at the moment...
Bernie: Well, you know so why are you asking me…
Martin: Well, I want to know if I’m right or not!
Bernie: You wait and see.
Martin: They’ve been told they can’t go flat-out around the track, and if they go slow it’s more dangerous. I mean, you can’t have 14 cars driving effectively a different racetrack.
Bernie: The problem has been caused by the tyres, obviously – Michelin brought the wrong tyres, it’s as simple as that.
Martin: But surely in the interests of Formula 1 you must have been screaming at the lot of them saying, “Sort yourselves out. This is what I’m going to do here, I’m taking charge here.”
Bernie: Yeah, but the difference is you can’t tell people to do something when the tyre company has said you can’t race on those tyres.
Martin: Did we need some more control of the paperwork that’s been flying about and the meetings? Could we not bang some heads together and just get this sorted out last night?
Why are we standing on the grid…you’re asking me what’s going on and I’m asking you what’s going on…
Bernie: I wish I knew. The problem is simple, as I say. There are not the tyres here where the tyre company feels confident that those tyres are OK, especially on that banking.
Martin: The future of F1 in America? The future of Michelin in F1?
Bernie: Not good.
Martin: On both counts?
Bernie: Both counts.
Martin: What will happen this week, will they be slapped in some court?
Bernie: We’ll have to see. It’s early days, we don’t know. I mean, I feel sorry for the public. I feel sorry for the promoter here.
Martin: I feel sorry for my eight million mates sitting at home looking forward to a good grand prix. Go and bang their heads together – but it’s too late now, we’ve run out of time, haven’t we?
Bernie: Well, let’s see what happens now. People shouldn’t give up on Formula 1 because of this one incident. The incident’s not the fault of the teams, to be honest with you.
What Michelin have said is that if they put a chicane in that corner then it would be OK, they could run. And it’s been decided not to put it in so that’s it.
Martin: Yeah, but they didn’t intentionally bring tyres that were not up to it. They’ve just obviously been caught out by something – a bad batch or this new diamond-cut surface. We saw Bridgestone having tyres fail in Barcelona with the safety car situation.
Surely we just have to have a sensible pill and say, OK, this is the situation we find ourselves in – let’s take a sensible solution and go motor racing.
Bernie: Tell me where we can buy the pills…
Martin: We need to talk to Mrs Ecclestone, maybe this needs a woman’s common sense here. Ah, Mrs Ecclestone – this needs a woman’s intuition on this, don’t you think?
Mrs Ecclestone: Nothing to say, nothing to say…
Martin: I think maybe you should have had something to say and given them a jolly good slapping!