Michelin teams guilty on two counts, penalty delayed

The seven Michelin teams that faced a World Motor Sport Council hearing on June 29th were found guilty of two of the five charges bought against them in regard to the US Grand Prix, and cleared of the other three. However, the FIA has delayed ...

The seven Michelin teams that faced a World Motor Sport Council hearing on June 29th were found guilty of two of the five charges bought against them in regard to the US Grand Prix, and cleared of the other three. However, the FIA has delayed deciding any penalty until September 14th in order to assess the efforts made to compensate the Indianapolis spectators and to ensure such a situation will not happen again.

The teams -- Renault, Williams, McLaren, BAR, Toyota, Red Bull and Sauber -- were found guilty of failing to have suitable tyres for the US GP and of wrongfully refusing to start the race. On the charges of refusing to race with a speed limit through Turn 13, conspiring to make a demonstration and failing to inform the stewards of their intentions they were found not guilty.

"The World Motor Sport Council has decided to adjourn discussion of penalty to an extraordinary meeting, when it will be seen what steps have been taken to compensate the fans, and what steps have been taken by the Michelin teams to make sure nothing like this ever happens again," said FIA President Max Mosley.

"There were five charges against the teams. The first of these were to be sure they were in possession of suitable tyres, and they were found guilty of that, but with strongly mitigating circumstances. They were accused of wrongfully refusing to start the race, found guilty of that."

"They were found not guilty of refusing to race subject to a speed limit, because there was no plan in place. They have also been found not guilty of conspiring to make a demonstration because they satisfied the World Council. They were found not guilty of failing to tell the stewards."

Mosley would not say what penalty the teams might face come September but indicated, in his personal opinion, that a deduction of points or race bans would probably not be appropriate. He added that the main concern was to compensate the fans and retain F1's position in America.

"The number one priority, from our point of view, was to secure compensation for the fans in the States and to make it up to the people watching on television," Mosley said. "Apart from that... it is very important that Formula One retains its position in the United States."

"If we give them (the teams) a bit of time, we will know in September what has been done. If a great deal has been done, the world council will take a lenient view."

Michelin will not face any charges -- Mosley said the FIA has no contract with the tyre company, only with the teams it supplies, and therefore cannot impose a penalty on the French manufacturer. Michelin announced this week that it intends to refund ticket costs of the US spectators and provide 20,000 tickets for 2006.

Six of the Michelin teams intend to appeal the two guilty charges. Red Bull was not included in the joint statement released by the teams and is reportedly considering its options.

Six teams to appeal guilty charges

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Series Formula 1
Teams Sauber , McLaren , Williams