September 11, 2005

F1 governing body hits back at Michelin

By Alan Baldwin

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Formula One's
governing body poured scorn on Michelin on Sunday after the
French tire company criticized plans to move to a single
supplier in 2008.

Michelin chairman Edouard Michelin warned at a news
conference at the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday that the
company could quit Formula One at the end of next year and
questioned the International Automobile Federation's (FIA)
integrity and conduct.

"Mr Michelin should be aware that the (single tire
supplier) proposal did not come from the FIA but from all the
competing teams, including all of Mr Michelin's teams," said
the FIA in response.

"There are powerful arguments for a single tire in Formula
One. If Mr Michelin is not aware of these simple facts, he
shows an almost comical lack of knowledge of modern Formula

Michelin and the FIA have been at loggerheads since the
U.S. Grand Prix fiasco in June, which saw just six cars start
the race after Michelin-equipped teams withdrew for tire safety

Michelin, who have said they will refund U.S. race-day
fans, were heavily blamed by the governing body and the FIA
returned to that theme again on Sunday.

"He is clearly irritated that the FIA condemned Michelin's
failure to provide suitable tires for the 2005 United States
Grand Prix," said the FIA.

"Mr Michelin should try to understand that no governing
body, competitor or member of the paying public could be happy
with a supplier which turned up with the wrong equipment and
wrecked a major world championship event."

Michelin also raised concern about the tender process for
any eventual single tire supply contract, referring to the bids
for the world touring car championship which went to rival
brand Yokohama.

The FIA said there had been nothing untoward and Yokohama's
success had nothing to do with the Indianapolis affair.

Michelin want continued competition between tire suppliers
in Formula One and say the FIA proposals go against the spirit
of racing.

They say a single supplier is not the only way of reducing
costs, a key argument in favor of the proposal, does not
guarantee equality of treatment for teams and is against the
interests of fans and broadcasters.

Michelin will supply five teams in 2006, with Williams and
Toyota moving to Bridgestone although Toyota have yet to
finalize a deal.

The French company's teams have won all but one race this
year. Champions Ferrari, with Bridgestone, won in Indianapolis.