FIA Publishes Charges Against Michelin’s F1 Teams
Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, has published charges against the seven Michelin supplied teams that declined to take part in Sunday’s disastrous US Grand Prix. The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said teams had “committed one or more acts prejudicial to the interests of a competition and the interests of motor sport in general.”
Specific charges alleged that teams failed to ensure that they had a supply of suitable tyres for the race. Perhaps most controversially, the teams were also accused of making “a demonstration damaging to the image of Formula One by pulling into the pits immediately before the start of the race”.
The FIA wrote to the McLaren, Williams, Renault, Sauber, Toyota, Red Bull and BAR teams individually and published copies of what they wrote after some of the faxes were leaked to the press. As far as the race itself is concerned, Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher won what commentators have described as a hollow victory at the US Grand Prix in Indianapolis.
Apart from the disappointment that American racing fans must have felt, the whole US Grand Prix debacle is likely to have consequences in a North American market that is already less than enthused with open-wheel racing series.
Giving a trans-Atlantic perspective, Jim Smith (editor of Tyres & Accessories US Partner magazine Tire Review) wrote the following as a foreword to his web site’s news review on the subject, summing up the mood in America.
“Anyone who watched the US Grand Prix on Speed Channel yesterday – or paid good money to attend the event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – witnessed what will go down as the most bizarre event in the history of motor racing. Due to a controversy over tyre performance, 20 cars took the parade lap before the race, but only six took the grid for the start.
“Formula 1 racing in the US has never been popular, certainly not to the degree it is in other parts of the world. And open wheel racing in the country has been on a steady decline, thanks to unfortunate infighting, poor racing and the fast-tracked growth of NASCAR. The unfortunate incident this past weekend may well have spelled the end of F1 racing in this country, and could potentially lead to a major fracture within the series
“Why is this important? Beside the obvious tyre connection, racing is a key means tyre companies use to promote their products to consumers – regardless of the series or level. When any race series earns such a black eye, this industry gets hurt.”
The bizarre news of the unusual US Grand Prix follows reports that Bridgestone has put itself forward to be the sole F1 tyre supplier if Max Mosley’s 2008 regulations come into place. This will also ensure that no team is affected by being “contracted to the ‘wrong’ supplier”, a seperate FIA dossier read.