Analysis: Teams Prepare for War or Peace

While it seems virtually certain that the bosses of the seven Michelin teams will end their meeting in Paris today all agreed on their approach for Wednesday's meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council, exactly what they will agree remains in doubt

Analysis: Teams Prepare for War or Peace

The seven teams, along with Minardi boss Paul Stoddart, are scheduled to meet to discuss their strategy plans amid concerns that if they head into the FIA hearing without a unified and clear course of action then it will leave them vulnerable to attack from the governing body.

But while there is acceptance of presenting the unified front, discussions are likely to be fairly intense on just how they reach that point - with teams believed even at this late hour to have varying opinions on how best to approach the World Council meeting.

Some believe that the teams should go on the attack against the FIA, with Stoddart most likely to be revving up fellow team bosses to adopt the aggressive approach that has seen him drop hints of race boycotts over the weekend.

The teams could simply use the hearing to stand firm in their belief that the FIA could have avoided the Indy fiasco by agreeing to install the much talked about chicane before Turn 13.

Justifying such a stance has been strengthened after Michelin issued a statement on Monday insisting that post-race analysis of the Indianapolis tyres proves that the race could have taken place if the chicane was built.

Another suggestion is that the teams do not attend the hearing at all, although the fact that written submissions from several teams have already been lodged with the FIA means that a boycott of the World Council meeting will not result in it being cancelled.

Should the teams agree that attack is the best form of defence, then sources have told Autosport-Atlas that one option being considered is for the teams to head into the hearing demanding that legally the World Motor Sport Council has no right to rule on the case - because the FIA had a central role to play in events at Indianapolis and the teams believe was partly to blame for the way the matter turned out.

The teams would therefore demand that an independent court or an arbitration body deals with the matter. This would certainly make life complicated for the governing body on Wednesday and delay a verdict on the matter.

An independent hearing, which could even be at the FIA's own Court of Appeal, could give the teams an improved chance of putting forward their case and lead to evidence and statements being put in the public domain - something that will not be available from the World Motor Sport Council hearing on Wednesday.

Should the teams decide against an aggressive approach, however, then there are still several options open to them.

The most obvious is for the teams to accept responsibility for the events at Indianapolis and agree on a suitable package of compensation for Indianapolis and the disappointed fans in a bid to appease the World Motor Sport Council and make it reluctant to hand out penalties.

The compensation package is believed to be a key consideration for the FIA - with Indianapolis owner Tony George having met with Bernie Ecclestone last week to discuss the possibility of refunds of both the race sanction fee and tickets. Just how this will be funded will likely become clearer after Wednesday's hearing.

It is also understood that some consideration is even being given to the teams putting together a deal that will result in a non-championship race being held at Indianapolis at the end of this season - with no sanctioning fee for the circuit and free admission to ticket holders of this year's United States Grand Prix.

Such a deal would prove that the teams were happy to race at Indianapolis under the right conditions, would go some way to repairing Formula One's image in the United States and would also serve the purpose of proving that the manufacturers who are threatening their own breakaway championship are more than capable of hosting their own events.

Whatever path the teams choose to take, they are likely to keep the plans to themselves this evening so as to ensure that the FIA gets as little warning as possible to make its response when the hearing begins on Wednesday morning.

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
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