Paul Stoddart has revealed how the 'group of nine' Formula One teams had agreed in principle to run the United States Grand Prix outside of FIA control after discussions with Max Mosley about the installation of a chicane at Indianapolis proved fruitless.
The Minardi boss decided that, in the absence of any real information about what went on behind closed doors at the Brickyard, he would reveal details about how the weekend progressed, from Ralf Schumacher's crash on Friday to the seven Michelin-shod teams pulling out at the end of the warm-up lap.
According to Stoddart, however, it needn't have come to that, particularly as the nine teams that have been allied since the 2005 testing restrictions came into force had agreed on an alternative.
"The nine teams had discussed running a non-championship race, a race in which the Michelin teams could not score points, and even a race whereby only the Michelin teams used the new chicane, and indeed, every other possible option that would allow 20 cars to participate and put on a show, thereby not causing the enormous damage to Formula One that all those present knew would otherwise occur," he wrote.
"Most present felt the only option was to install the chicane and race, if necessary, without Ferrari, but with 18 cars, in what would undoubtedly be a non-championship race. We discussed with Bernie [Ecclestone] the effects of the FIA withdrawing its staff, and agreed among ourselves a race director, a safety car driver, and other essential positions. All agreed that, under the circumstances, what was of paramount importance was that the race must go ahead.
"All further agreed that since we would most likely be denied FIA facilities, such as scales and post-race scrutineering, every competitor would instruct his team and drivers to conduct themselves in the spirit of providing an entertaining race for the good of Formula One.
"At this point, we called for all 20 drivers, and indeed, all 20 arrived, at which point we informed them of our plan. While I cannot testify that each and every driver agreed with what we were proposing, what I can say with certainty is that no driver disagreed, and indeed, members of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association discussed overseeing the construction of a suitable chicane. Jean Todt was the only significant team individual not
present, and the Ferrari drivers stated this decision was up to Mr Todt."
An apparent threat from Max Mosley to withdraw FIA support for any event in America should the race go ahead effectively scuppered the plan, but Stoddart remained intent on showing his solidarity with the Michelin teams by not racing - until it became apparent that other pressures left him with little choice.
"I asked Jordan's Colin Kolles if he intended to stand by the other teams or participate in the race [and], in no uncertain terms, I was told Jordan would
be racing," he revealed, "I was also approached by a Bridgestone representative, who informed me that Bridgestone wished us to race. This left me with one of the most difficult decisions I have had to take during my time in F1.
"I did not
want to race but, given my current relationship with Mr Mosley, felt certain heavy sanctions would follow if I did not. I made it clear to Bernie Ecclestone, and several team principals that, if the Jordans either went off or retired, I would withdraw the Minardi cars from the race."
Stoddart's full explanation of what happened can be found in the Features section of the Formula One channel, or by clicking here