FIA summons Michelin teams to Paris

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The seven teams riding on Michelin tires that refused to participate in Sunday's 2005 United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis, Ind., have been "summoned" to a hearing by the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA).

The FIA, Formula One's governing body, will meet with representatives from the following teams in Paris on Wednesday, June 29, 2005: Renault F1 Team Ltd., Toyota Motorsport Gmbh, Sauber Motorsport AG, Red Bull Racing, McLaren International Ltd., Williams Grand Prix Engineering Ltd. and British American Racing GP Ltd.

Tire problems created controversy at the event. Groupe Michelin said due to tire failures that occurred during practice sessions at Turns 12 and 13 at the Indianapolis Speedway, it was "not able to guarantee the total safety of the drivers."

Prior to the race, Michelin notified FIA Formula One Race Director Charlie Whiting of its concerns, and asked the FIA to install a chicane at the entrance of Turn 12 to reduce car speed.

"We are very surprised that this difficulty has arisen," responded Whiting. "As you know, each team is allowed to bring two different types of tyres to an event so as to ensure that a back-up (usually of lower performance) is available should problems occur. It is hard to understand why you have not supplied your teams with such a tyre given your years of experience at Indianapolis."

Based on existing F1 rules, Whiting offered the following options to Michelin:

1. running more slowly in Turns 12/13 (the area where Michelin said its tires could not safely perform at high speeds).

2. running a tire not used in qualifying (which would attract a penalty).

3. repeatedly changing a tire (subject to valid safety reasons).

The teams running on Michelin tires chose not to compete at all.

"It has been brought to our attention that extracts from the document summoning the seven Michelin teams to the FIA World Motor Sport Council have reached some members of the press," said the FIA in a letter on Monday. "In the interests of transparency, we have therefore decided to publish the charges faced by each team in their entirety."

Here are excerpts from the letter, based on 151c of the International Sporting Code, sent to the seven teams from Pierre de Coninck, secretary general of the FIA:

"You are hearby requested to appear at the forthcoming meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council, which is to be held in Paris on 29 June, 2005..., to answer charges that, in breach of the above, you committed one or more acts prejudicial to the interests of a competition, namely the 2005 United States Grand Prix and/or to the interests of motor sport generally in that you:

* failed to ensure that you had a supply of suitable tyres for the race and/or

* wrongfully refused to allow your cars to start the race and/or

* wrongfully refused to allow your cars to race, subject to a speed restriction in one corner which was safe for such tires as you had available and/or

* combined with other teams to make a demonstration damaging to the image of Formula One pulling into the pits immediately before the start of the race,

and that you failed to notify stewards of your intention not to race, in breach of Article 131 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations."

The letter concluded as follows:

"At this hearing, you may be assisted by the counsel of your choice.

A full dossier will be sent to you within 48 hours.

"Should you wish to send us any comments in writing before this meeting, we will make sure that they are circulated to the members of the World Motor Sport Council."

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