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FIA Senate Absolves Michelin Teams

Michelin's F1 teams have successfully convinced the FIA that they were innocent of disrepute charges over not racing at Indianapolis, as exclusively revealed by Autosport-Atlas on Wednesday

An emergency FIA Senate hearing was called for today to listen to new evidence presented by McLaren chief Ron Dennis - representing his own squad, championship leaders Renault, Williams, Toyota, BAR and Sauber - and Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

The teams were found guilty on two of five counts after the Indianapolis race, but the fresh information put forward for consideration in Monaco today has led the FIA Senate to suggest to the WMSC to shift the blame entirely onto Michelin.

"Having examined the new evidence and discussed it with Mr Dennis and Mr Horner, the Senate was satisfied that the teams were contractually bound to follow the instructions of their tyre supplier and that their tyre supplier had expressly prohibited them from racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in its licensed configuration," said the FIA Senate in a statement.

"Recognising that for both sporting and legal reasons it was impossible for the FIA to authorise a change to the circuit configuration and that both the FIA and the teams could have faced serious legal difficulties in the United States had they not observed to the letter their respective rules and contractual obligations (particularly had there been any kind of accident), the Senate was of the view that having regard to this new evidence, disciplinary proceedings against the teams had ceased to be appropriate and were no longer in the interest of the sport.
 
"The Senate will therefore recommend to the World Motor Sport Council that the guilty verdict of 29 June against the teams be cancelled.  It is anticipated that this recommendation will be put to the World Motor Sport Council by means of a fax vote in the next few days."

The fresh evidence provided by Dennis and Horner effectively seals the FIA's stance that Michelin was entirely to blame for the events at Indianapolis.

FIA president Max Mosley has made no secret of the fact that he believes the French tyre manufacturer was responsible, and with the teams having now effectively shifted blame away from themselves, the tyre company can no longer plead any innocence over the events.

There is even a chance that this latest twist will eventually result in a move to get Michelin out of F1 altogether. Quite how that is achieved remains to be seen, with Michelin already having at least one contract in place for next year, but Mosley has made no secret of the fact that he ultimately wants a single tyre supplier in the future.

The World Motorsport Council will decide on the matter via a fax vote and the seven teams should be cleared of any charges within days.

The WMSC deferred any sentencing until September 14, but the teams appealed against the guilty verdicts, claiming their only choice was to withdraw from the race after receiving advice from Michelin based on safety grounds.


Full Statement from the FIA Senate

FIA Senate Meeting

Following receipt of a dossier of new evidence relating to events at the 2005 United States Grand Prix submitted to the FIA by BAR, McLaren, Renault, Sauber, Toyota and Williams, the FIA Senate met in Monaco on 14 July.  Ron Dennis attended the meeting, having been appointed representative of six Michelin teams.  He was accompanied by Christian Horner from Red Bull Racing.

Having examined the new evidence and discussed it with Mr Dennis and Mr Horner, the Senate was satisfied that the teams were contractually bound to follow the instructions of their tyre supplier and that their tyre supplier had expressly prohibited them from racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in its licensed configuration.  Recognising that for both sporting and legal reasons it was impossible for the FIA to authorise a change to the circuit configuration and that both the FIA and the teams could have faced serious legal difficulties in the United States had they not observed to the letter their respective rules and contractual obligations (particularly had there been any kind of accident), the Senate was of the view that having regard to this new evidence, disciplinary proceedings against the teams had ceased to be appropriate and were no longer in the interest of the sport.

The Senate will therefore recommend to the World Motor Sport Council that the guilty verdict of 29 June against the teams be cancelled.  It is anticipated that this recommendation will be put to the World Motor Sport Council by means of a fax vote in the next few days.

Paris, July 14, 2005

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