June 29, 2005

Michelin teams guilty on two charges

By Alan Baldwin

PARIS (Reuters) - The seven teams using Michelin tyres whofailed to start the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis earlierthis month were found guilty by the FIA on two of five chargesthey faced at a hearing Wednesday.

They were cleared of the other three. The FIA said they haddecided to adjourn discussion of any penalties until anextraordinary meeting on September 14.

The teams were found guilty of failing to ensure they werein possession of suitable tyres for the June 19 grand prix butwith strong mitigating circumstances.

The seven -- championship leaders Renault, McLaren,Williams, Toyota, Red Bull, Sauber and BAR -- were also foundguilty by the world governing body of wrongfully refusing toallow their cars to start the race.

They were cleared of refusing to race subject to a speedrestriction, combining to make a demonstration and failing toinform the stewards of their intention not to start.

Michelin, whose failure to provide appropriate tyres forthe track conditions to the seven teams which led to theboycott on safety grounds, will not be subject to anysanctions.

"We can't impose a penalty on Michelin," FIA president MaxMosley told reporters. "They have no more of a relationshipwith us than any other team supplier. We have no power overthem."


Tuesday, Michelin offered to reimburse disgruntled fans atIndianapolis, many of whom walked out in disgust when only sixcars representing three teams who were using another brand oftyres contested the grand prix.

Mosley said: "We are hoping the Michelin teams will makesure that what Michelin has suggested they do is done and notjust talked about."

He added that his message to the seven teams was: "If yousort this out (for the fans), we will take a lenient view -- ifyou don't, we might not."

Mosley thought it unlikely that teams be retrospectivelydocked world championship points.

"I can't speak for the council (FIA world motor sportcouncil) but personally I am very reluctant to do anything withpoints unless what the person has done affected their sportingperformance."

He said FIA could, however, impose "a series of enormousfines" on the teams with which to compensate fans.

"Our number one priority from the start has been theviewers; to secure compensation for the fans in the States."

Mosley said the teams had been given time until Septemberto come up with a proposal to do this.

He added it was never on the agenda for the teams to pullout of this Sunday's French Grand Prix.

Formula One had already faced an uncertain future in theU.S. where it has traditionally played second fiddle to otherforms of motor sport, including NASCAR.