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FIA finds race teams 'guilty,' cannot penalize Michelin

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The Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA), Formula One's governing body, met with Michelin-sponsored teams who refused to race in the recent 2005 U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis, Ind., yesterday.

In an official statement, FIA President Max Mosley said the racing organization is not "in a position to impose a penalty on Michelin... we have no contractual relationship with them."

Had the FIA been in a position to impose a penalty, "they would have been summoned to the World Council and judging from what we heard from the teams, they would have found themselves in a very difficult position."

The FIA leveled five charges against the teams who refused to race.

Here is Mosley's statement, which was released yesterday:

"The hearing of the teams took place this morning. They were represented by counsel, with one exception, which was Red Bull. As you will recall, there were five charges against the teams.

"The first of these was failing to ensure they were in possession of suitable tyres for the 2005 United States Grand Prix, and they were found guilty of that, but with strongly mitigating circumstances.

"The second thing was they were accused of wrongfully refusing to allow their cars to start the race, and they were found guilty of that on the grounds that they could have used the pitlane, it would have been very slow but they could do that.

"The third charge was refusing to race subject to a speed restriction, and they were found not guilty because there was no clear plan in place as to how that would be done.

"They were also found not guilty of combining to make a demonstration because they satisfied the World Council that it was genuinely their intention to race when they went out of the pits and onto the starting grid.

"And finally they were found not guilty of failing to inform the stewards for exactly the same reason, that they did intend to race. So guilty on two and not guilty on three of the charges.

"The World Motor Sport Council decided to adjourn discussion of any penalty to an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on September 14, 2005, when it will also examine what steps have been taken by the seven Michelin teams and/or their tyre supplier to compensate the Formula One fans and repair the damage to the reputation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and to the image of Formula One, (and) also what steps have been taken by the Michelin teams to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

"Those two questions will be examined in September and depending on where we have got to on those two points will make the final decision on a penalty, if a penalty is imposed by the World Council."

Michelin says it will reimburse spectators who were at the race and also has pledged to send 20,000 of them to next year's event.

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