The team bosses responsible for the US GP boycott said sorry to American fans but claimed they had no choice because of fears over safety.
Seven teams pulled out after F1 bosses and Ferrari refused to add a chicane to the bend where two cars on Michelin tyres crashed on Friday.
"The most important thing is the sport. Unfortunately it's a very sad day for us all," said BAR-Honda boss Nick Fry.
"It's not a great day for Formula One," added Red Bull's Christian Horner.
The walk-out occurred when tyre manufacturer Michelin advised the seven teams it supplies that it could not explain the cause of the tyre blow-out that led to Ralf Schumacher's crash in practice on Friday.
"It's a great shame for all the fans who have come to see the racing only to watch six cars going round," said Horner.
After the race, Michelin put on a brave face, apologising but insisting the action had been taken for the best reasons.
"Michelin is sorry that the tyres it ran in free practice and qualifying were
not suitable for use in racing conditions this weekend but driver safety is
always a priority," said a statement from the company.
"It is regrettable that our pre-race suggestions, agreed in conjunction with
our partner teams, were not adopted.
"Had our ideas been followed, we could have guaranteed driver safety, the participation of our teams and added interest for the public."
Ferrari, one of three teams to use Bridgestone tyres, vetoed a last-ditch proposal to modify the Indianapolis track's lay-out by adding a chicane.
With that rescue plan scuppered, the seven Michelin teams pulled out of the race - to the dismay of the confused and angry crowd - after the parade lap.
"In the interests of safety we have to follow the advice of our tyre supplier, we couldn't afford to put our drivers, team members or members of the public at risk based on their advice," said Horner.
"We really had no other alternative but to withdraw from the race.
"At the end of the day I guess the buck stops with Michelin. We didn't have a tyre that was capable this weekend."
Renault chief Flavio Briatore added: "What we asked is only what we can ask - if it was possible to change the configuration of the circuit?
"We have said, our mechanics have said, our drivers have said we want to race. We don't care about Ferrari starting in front. We wanted to race, as simple as that."
England's Jenson Button was due to start third on the grid and Fry, his boss at BAR-Honda, was left to bemoan a set of circumstances which leave his team still without a point this season.
Fry said: "We think Jenson would have been in with a very good chance here so it is very, very disappointing for us."
Ferrari's one-two in the race gives them 18 points which rockets them up the championship table from fifth to second, level with McLaren.