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Race Teams to Get Penalty

Formula One's governing body rules that those boycotting U.S. Grand Prix were in the wrong. Punishments to come Sept. 14.

June 30, 2005|From Associated Press

PARIS — Formula One's governing body ruled Wednesday the seven teams that boycotted the United States Grand Prix were guilty of failing to provide suitable tires and wrongfully refusing to allow their cars to start.

The FIA will announce their punishments Sept. 14.

BMW-Williams, Mercedes-McLaren, BAR-Honda, Toyota, Sauber, Red Bull and Renault declined to race June 19 after their tire manufacturer, Michelin, said its tires were unsafe for the Indianapolis circuit.

The FIA accused the teams of damaging the sport's image and charged them with breaching the International Sporting Code. The teams face punishments ranging from a reprimand to life bans.

Michelin has offered to refund tickets to those who attended the race and offered 20,000 free tickets for the 2006 race.

"The FIA welcomes the announcement made by Michelin of a compensation package," the FIA said in a statement before the hearing. "However, the FIA strongly contests the version of events detailed in Michelin's press release of June 28 and rejects the views expressed in Edouard Michelin's widely publicized letter to the FIA president Max Mosley."

Michelin claimed its tests showed the tires were not "intrinsically flawed," and justified demands for a series of turns to be installed to slow cars on a high-speed part of the course. Michelin added that the circuit's banked Turn 13 was unique to the championship and the pressure exerted on the rear left tires was greater than estimated.

The FIA refused the request, even though nine of the 10 teams -- excluding Ferrari -- said they would race if it was installed.

Mosley responded to a letter from Edouard Michelin in which FIA was criticized for its response to the fiasco.

"You failed to bring a safe backup tire to the event," Mosley said. "The banking on Turn 13 has been there for nearly 100 years. Did Michelin really not know the loads or failing that, not have the means to calculate or simulate them?"

Two Michelin tires failed during practice sessions two days before the race -- one causing a wreck that prevented Ralf Schumacher from competing.

The problems are the latest that threaten to break up the F1 series.

Nine of the teams are considering a breakaway series in 2008 backed by three key manufacturers -- BMW, Mercedes and Renault. Honda and Toyota have also given unofficial support to the idea.

They are opposed by Mosley, F1 owner Bernie Ecclestone and Ferrari. Ecclestone is trying to persuade the teams to sign a new contract beginning in 2008 and Ferrari has already signed up through 2012.

The next F1 race is the French GP at Magny Cours on Sunday.

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