Put Safety First, Mosley Tells Teams

Formula One's governing body has asked team bosses and tyre makers to 'remember their responsibilities' and put safety first amid concern over tyre failures

Put Safety First, Mosley Tells Teams

FIA president Max Mosley also reminded teams that race officials could, as a last resort, order drivers to return to the pits if their tyres were in a dangerous condition.

"It should not be forgotten that a mechanical failure at high speed may involve a degree of risk to the spectating public," Mosley wrote in a letter sent out on Wednesday.

"If you are in any doubt about your car, you should always call it in. If you are still in doubt after checking the car in the pits, you should retire it from the race."

The letter followed last weekend's European Grand Prix, where race leader Kimi Raikkonen crashed his McLaren at speed on the last lap at the Nurburgring because of suspension failure caused by uneven tyre wear.

Although the Finn could have pitted for a replacement tyre, to do so would have cost him the race.

Some observers have suggested new rules, with tyres now having to last for qualifying and the entire race, had made the sport more dangerous.

"We do not want to feed the localised and ill-considered hysteria about tyres, nor is this letter in any way a criticism of McLaren Mercedes (most of us would probably have done the same in their place last weekend)," said Mosley.

"However...we feel this is the right moment to ask everyone to remember their responsibilities.

"The rules of Formula One have always left it to each team to judge how far to go in balancing performance against mechanical integrity," added Mosley.

"Equally, when a car's mechanical integrity has, or may have, been compromised by a race incident, it is for the team to decide whether to continue, make a pitstop or retire.

"The race director does of course have the option of a black and orange flag but would use this only in an extreme situation. The team is always better placed to assess the risks than anyone in race control."

A black flag with an orange disc in the middle is used to show a driver that his car has a mechanical problem likely to endanger himself or others and must return to the pits immediately.

Mosley also wrote to both tyre suppliers Michelin and Bridgestone urging them to take steps to increase tyre reliability.

He said the FIA lacked the technical resources and knowledge to assess for themselves the structural integrity, wear resistance and strength of a tyre.

"Formula One is therefore totally dependent on the tyre suppliers to ensure that no risks are taken in the pursuit of performance," he said.

"We are confident that we can rely on you to make every effort to see that there are no more tyre failures this season."

Michelin, who supply seven of the 10 teams including McLaren, have suffered most of the failures although Ferrari's World Champion Michael Schumacher retired at the Spanish Grand Prix with two deflated tyres.

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Series Formula 1
Author Alan Baldwin
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