[21/06/05 - 13:06]
US deserters in F1 dock
The teams could be forced to pay back the fans
ll seven Formula One teams who failed to race in Sunday's US Grand Prix over fears their Michelin tyres might be dangerous have been charged with bringing the sport into disrepute.
Toyota, Renault, McLaren-Mercedes, Williams-BMW, BAR-Honda, Sauber-Petronas and Red Bull-Cosworth have been summonsed to defend the charges in Paris on June 29 by motor racing's governing body FIA.
FIA took the decision after the race descended into farce when the seven teams pulled into the pitlane after the warm-up lap leaving just the cars of Ferrari, Minardi and Jordan in the field.
The French tyre maker has refused to accept the blame - instead accusing FIA and their president Max Mosley of refusing to compromise over the problem.
The FIA have charged the team chiefs with:
- failing to ensure they had a supply of suitable tyres
- wrongfully refusing to allow their cars to start the race and/or
- wrongfully refusing to allow their cars to race subject to a speed restriction in one corner which was safe for suich tyres as they had and/or
- combined with other teams to make a demonstration damaging to the image of Formula One by pulling into the pits immediately before the start of the race.
The FIA cannot ban the teams because future races would be wrecked with 14 cars missing but Mosley has already raised the possibility that teams could be forced to pay back the fans who paid 100 dollars a ticket for Sunday's fiasco at Indianapolis.
A refund was estimated to be around 16 million dollars.
The teams may anyway be penalised by their sponsors who invite thousands of corporate guests to races.
BAR Honda were faced with paying back 11 million dollars to sponsors when they were banned from the Monaco Grand Prix this year.
The FIA's stance was seen as a hardening of the battle lines between Mosley, and the car manufacturers who back the idea of a breakaway championship in the face of Mosley's raft of new regulations to simplify motor racing to be brought in from the start of 2008.
Michelin's failure to supply its teams with safe and durable tyres came less than two weeks after it was warned by the FIA not to sacrifice safety for performance.
Mosley wrote to Michelin in the wake of Kimi Raikkonen's suspension failure in the European grand prix - caused by vibrations which built up after the Finn flat-spotted his right front tyre - warning it should take no risks in the specifications of its tyres.