Stoddart Hits Out at Mosley over Tyres

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has sounded a warning, hitting back at FIA president Max Mosley, who recently made it plain that he viewed tyre safety as the responsibility of the teams and tyre companies

Stoddart Hits Out at Mosley over Tyres

"We are going into potentially the most litigious race of the year," Stoddart said. "I have said publicly that I do not agree with these tyre regulations and I'll state it again because in the event of a bad or fatal situation, I would not want to be one of the people responsible for bringing them in."

The current controversy arose after Kimi Raikkonen's flat-spotted tyre at Nurburgring, which led to the Finn's last lap suspension failure and accident. Raikkonen was unhurt but Stoddart's view is that F1 might not be so lucky next time.

The Minardi team principal's gripe was not with tyre safety, but with a regulation that does not allow a driver to come in and change a damaged tyre without a subsequent investigation to judge whether he was permitted to change it.

"It was predicted before the start of the season that this would occur," Stoddart claims. "You can't in any way blame the tyre companies. They should shoulder zero percent of the blame for what happened.

"A flat-spotted tyre is not something that has been created by either tyre compound or construction. If tyres are black and round you still have the opportunity to flat-spot them and that has diddly squat to do with manufacture."

The current tyre regulations, Stoddart points out, were fought against by the teams and were introduced via Article 7.5 of the Concorde Agreement under the guise of safety regulations.

"How can it possibly be safe to be putting the drivers, teams, marshals and spectators in this predicament?" Stoddart said. "It is a heavy weight on the FIA to decide at what point their regulations cross over into what is arguably a negligent situation.

"If we have another incident and are not so lucky next time, there are certain jurisdictions where it would be hard to walk away from responsibility as a governing body. And if, God forbid, it happens, then whatever country you are, whichever group of lawyers you are, lay the blame fairly and squarely where it belongs.

"Not even at the FIA's doorstep but at Max's doorstep."

Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello argued in Montreal that faced with Raikkonen's Nurburgring situation he would have pitted, but he was markedly in the minority.

"Practically any team and driver faced with the position that McLaren and Raikkonen found themselves in at Nurburgring would have had no hesitation to continue," Stoddart went on.

"Because of the risk versus reward for coming in to do a pitstop where you would then not know if you were going to lose any points you had scored until some time after the race, after an investigation. You can't really have such a grey area over the regulations that it dissuades a team or driver from coming in to change a tyre.

"If it had been a different circuit and a different time and that car had gone off and into the crowd and we'd been facing serious injury or fatalities, would we all be having the same discussions now? No. The rules would have been changed overnight to prevent such a situation from happening."

There is, however, provision for race officials to bring a car judged to have a mechanical defect into the pits via a black and orange flag.

"I'll tell you why they didn't do that," Stoddart said. "Imagine, it's Max's tyre rule and [race director] Charlie [Whiting] black flags the race leader with a lap to go - you'd have the biggest Court of Appeal case known to mankind."


Read more, in Tony Dodgins' analysis All Tyred and Emotional in this week's Journal

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