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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 June, 2005, 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK
US race boycott set 'to harm F1'
Angry US Grand Prix fans make their feelings clear
Drivers and team bosses say Formula One in America may never recover after seven teams boycotted the US GP.

Only the three teams on Bridgestone tyres took part after a row over additional track safety measures.

Nick Heidfeld said it was "a disaster" for F1 in the USA, and his boss Frank Williams said the sport was "damaged, maybe irrevocably so" in the country.

Driver Jacques Villeneuve said he had every sympathy with the angry reaction of the fans.

"If I was a fan out there I would do the same," he said.

When asked how long he thought it would take the sport's reputation to recover, he said "In America, I don't think it will."

The 100,000 crowd had no idea of the controversy - which saw all teams and officials locked in last-ditch talks right up until the start of the race - until the 14 cars on Michelin tyres pulled into the pit lane after the warm-up lap.

I've not experienced anything like this in my career before. Frankly, I'm embarrassed
David Coulthard

Boos broke out and bottles were thrown onto the track and by the end of the race there was only a few thousand fans left, with F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone receiving abuse from some.

Many disgruntled fans held up signs demanding a refund.

After the race, Indianapolis Motor Speedway chief executive Tony George gave them the addresses of Michelin, the International Automobile Federation and Ecclestone's Formula One Management.

One Indiana-based spectator said: "My son in law is in the military and he is on leave from Iraq to be here and he was very upset when they stopped.

"I don't know what to make of it because it's my first time I've been here. I was sat in the stand and enjoying everything and then suddenly they stopped running - I don't know why."

Driver David Coulthard could be heard on the team radio making a keen plea to be allowed to race just before the order for the mass withdrawal was made.

"I've not experienced anything like this in my career before. Frankly, I'm embarrassed," said Coulthard.

"This is going to leave a long-lasting bitter taste in people's mouths."

The 'race' was won by Michael Schumacher, team-mate Rubens Barichello taking second to give Ferrari 18 championship points which puts them joint second with McLaren.

The teams on Michelin tyres did not take part because they believed a chicane should have been added to slow down the final turn where Ralf Schumacher's tyre blew on Friday.

F1 officials and Ferrari refused to sanction the proposal, which was backed by the nine other teams.

Schumacher claims farcical US win
19 Jun 05 |  Formula One
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19 Jun 05 |  Formula One
US GP photos
19 Jun 05 |  Photo Galleries
Seven teams boycott US Grand Prix
19 Jun 05 |  Formula One


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