Michelin offers to reimburse F1 race spectators

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Groupe Michelin will not only reimburse spectators at the recent United States Grand Prix race in Indianapolis, but also will send 20,000 of them to the race next year.

Prior to the start of the June 19 Formula One race, the seven teams riding on Michelin tires refused to participate, citing safety concerns surrounding their tires. Only six racers, all riding on Bridgestone tires, competed in the race.

In what it calls "straight talk and a sincere gesture for the American spectators," Groupe Michelin released the following statements.

"Michelin wishes to make a sincere gesture of goodwill towards the people present at the GP, a group whose passion for F1 is encouraging in the development of this sport in the United States.

"Therefore, on our own initiative and in total solidarity with our partners, we have taken two decisions:

1."Michelin has decided to contribute to the costs incurred by the spectators present at the circuit on Sunday, June 19th, 2005, by offering to refund their tickets. This is an important decision, since Michelin is not at all legally bound to do this. Michelin deeply regrets that the public was deprived of an exciting race and therefore wishes to be the first, among the different groups involved in the Indianapolis race, to make a strong gesture towards the spectators."

2. "Michelin also offers to buy 20,000 tickets for the 2006 U.S. Grand Prix to be given to spectators who were present at the Indianapolis race in 2005. We are offering this to promote further Formula 1 interest in the United States."

Michelin says it is "unacceptable that our partner teams have been accused by the FIA of having boycotted the Indianapolis Grand Prix. The reality is that together, Michelin and its partners have done everything possible to assure that the race could take place in total safety.

"We are extremely disappointed that the proposals made with all our teams were not accepted. These proposals, including a chicane, were technically viable and totally met all safety requirements.

"On Sunday morning, June 19, the sporting authority had all the means necessary to preserve the interest of the race. And yet, the sporting authority rejected the proposed solutions. Why? In our view this is totally incomprehensible and reflects a lack of respect for the spectators. It is the spirit of respect for the spectators that brought us, with our partners, to propose solutions to allow the race to take place in total safety. It is this same spirit that leads us today to make this gesture."

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