Motor racing-Mosley hits back at Michelin in tyre row


By Alan Baldwin

PARIS, June 29 (Reuters) - Formula One's governing body hit back at Michelin on Wednesday while welcoming the French tyre company's offer to refund U.S. Grand Prix fans for the Indianapolis fiasco.

In a letter to company chairman Edouard Michelin, International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley made clear his disagreement with their version of events.

"We cannot agree with your claim that Michelin did the maximum to preserve a true and safe race," he said.

Mosley and the tyre company have been at odds since the June 19 Grand Prix, when Formula One's smallest ever field of just six cars started a 'race' while the seven teams with Michelin tyres withdrew for safety reasons.

The events were a big blow to Michelin's image and to that of Formula One in America.

The seven teams -- championship leaders Renault, McLaren, Williams, Toyota, Red Bull, Sauber and BAR -- were appearing before the FIA's world motor sport council in Paris on Wednesday and could face heavy sanctions.

Mosley said Michelin had failed to bring a safe back-up tyre to the event and the company's representatives had then refused to accept any solution other than a temporary chicane to slow all the cars down through the final banked corner.

The FIA reiterated that was never an option.

Mosley termed as "extraordinary" an assertion by the company that the regulations do not require a manufacturer to supply tyres that would not fail in very extreme conditions.

"What is Formula One if not motoring in very extreme conditions?" he asked.

Mosley's comments came a day after Michelin said it would be refunding fans for their tickets, a cost of about $16 million according to some commentators with 120,000 attending the event. It also followed a stinging letter to him from Edouard Michelin. A copy of that letter, sent also to the seven teams, was obtained by Reuters on Tuesday.

Michelin had written: "I feel it necessary to let you know how discontented I was of both the nature of your contentions -- which are based on mere allegations -- and the suspicious and inappropriate tone employed."

He accused Mosley of repeatedly blaming the company in the press, directly or indirectly.

"I hope you will be fair enough to acknowledge that Michelin, with its seven partner teams, IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway), FOM (Formula One Management) and two other teams, did the maximum to preserve a true and safe race by proposing a very serious and pragmatic alternative," he added.

"This is all the opposite of a boycott."



Follow Us

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×