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Dupasquier: "We Screwed Up"

After nearly four decades of work at Michelin, Pierre Dupasquier admitted that today was the most embarassing day of his career

But the feisty Frenchman, who is set for retirement after this season, was adamant that Michelin followed the only responsible course of action that it could. Speaking to Autosport-Atlas, he explains how seven of 10 Formula One teams ended up withdrawing from the United States Grand Prix before the race began.

Q: Can you explain how, with all your experience, you came to bring a tyre that wasn't suitable for this circuit?

Dupasquier: "We screwed up. We have an idea of what happened, and we keep going with our investigation."

Q: Did you push too far?

Dupasquier: "No, no, no. It's nothing to do with that. On the contrary, since we have to last for the entire race, we kept huge margins."

Q: There's a lot of weight on your shoulders after this day.

Dupasquier: "The weight is not on my shoulders, I am not alone. The company was alert, we were working on the subject around the clock and we just have been doing it step-by-step to find the situation. We shared with our partners and we came up with the conclusion that neither solution we had handy could do the race."

Q: Is this the most embarrassing moment in your career with Michelin?

Dupasquier: "Yes. But I would be more embarrassed if I personally screwed up. We worked, we brought the right solution, we acted with responsibility and after that I have no regrets, because you can turn around and look at your face in the mirror with a big smile and no backwards thoughts. It happens, to all of us, unfortunately."

Q: There was a solution - the chicane. But it didn't happen.

Dupasquier: "We did not talk about the chicane. We said that we had found out that with a lower speed, significantly lower speed, climbing on the oval, we would be totally out of trouble. The chicane could have been a solution but there were others as well. We have no right and we are not in the position to put any judgement to what has been done. We didn't ask for any rule change. We know technically if we avoid increasing speed on the banking we would be out of the problem, that is the only thing we said."

Q: How damaging has this been to Michelin's reputation?

Dupasquier: "Anything we heard so far was more on the side of 'congratulations for the responsibility, you made the right decision' and so on. You ruin your reputation if you do stupid things. If you race with a problem in the tyre that could send the drivers in the wall then you ruin your reputation, because you are knowledgeable and you are responsible. You have made the best you can - we do a good job at other places, everyone knows. In this situation we did not have the right tyre for the conditions, but fine, it happens to everyone."

Q: Have you found the reason for the tyre failure?

Dupasquier: "Usage of this particular track. We did testing in three days on the machines and the tyres conform to our specification, so they are just not suited to this place. It is not a problem. If we said slowing down on turn 13 would make it safe, it means we have a reasonably good idea what the cause was. It is pressure related, but not enough to make sure we are away from the red line. The new surface is likely to be part of it."

Q: What would you say to the fans today?

Dupasquier: "We are sorry about it, we regret what happened. We had no choice but assuming responsibility and taking no chance with the race and with the drivers."

Q: How do you see the future?

Dupasquier: "Race harder, faster, and win more races. All the teams together said 'we follow your conclusions'. No chicane, no race. It was a great feeling for the solidarity, the understanding and the partnership with all those people and we are grateful for that."

Q: did you have any personal discussions with Bernie Ecclestone over the weekend?

Dupasquier: "Yes. They were positive. This guy just tries to make things happen. He is a positive person and he tried the best he could to find solutions."

Q: Was he critical of Michelin?

Dupasquier: "No, no, no, no."

Q: "Do you think Michelin will be invited to appear before the FIA's World Motorsport Council?

Dupasquier: "I don't know. That was not in our mind. We didn't even think about it, we just wanted to ensure technically and sportingly the tradition that the race can go on with no risk, of our knowledge, to the drivers."

Q: Were Toyota running below the recommended pressure?

Dupasquier: "No, no, no. We have never experienced with our partners such kind of behaviour. They know why we say that, there are the figures and they don't want to see their car in the wall either."

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