The so-called F1 Fiasco was the talk of the racing world Monday, said Yahoo, igniting outrage and finger-pointing among backers of the successful international circuit and Americans who want to see it succeed here. As cars circled the track for their warmup lap in the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday, 14 of 20 drivers abruptly pulled off in protest over a tire-safety dispute.
A crowd of 150,000 and an international television audience were left to watch six remaining cars buzz around the course for an hour and a half. Fans who remained in the grandstand until the end — thousands went home — vented their frustration by throwing debris and booing the eventual winner, superstar Michael Schumacher.
Formula One racing does not face this problem in other parts of the world, where it ranks shoulder to shoulder with soccer in popularity. Crowds flock to events throughout Europe, South America and Asia. Schumacher is among the most recognized of all athletes.
Yet, much like soccer, the international circuit has struggled to gain a foothold in this country since arriving at Sebring, Fla., in 1959. Each year since 2000, when Formula One races were inaugurated at a special winding track on the Indianapolis infield, crowds have steadily declined.