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Suspended Penalty Makes BAR Vulnerable

BAR are more vulnerable to a bigger penalty than the rest of the Michelin teams in next week's hearing of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council, Autosport-Atlas has learned

The governing body will almost certainly favour fines rather than a series of bans if they decide to punish the Michelin teams for their withdrawal from the United States Grand Prix. However, BAR are under a six-month suspended penalty for illegally running fuel as ballast at this year's San Marino Grand Prix, and sources have suggested that that sanction will almost certainly be taken into account if the teams are all found guilty next week of not having acted in the best interests of the sport.

Amid growing suggestions that Indianapolis race promoters may try and seek damages from Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone for the events that marred Sunday's race, there is a likelihood that teams themselves could be forced to foot the compensation bill for the organisers and fans who were affected by the turn of events.

FIA president Max Mosley was widely quoted on Tuesday claiming that a big fine was a possibility if the teams were found guilty. "I think Michelin and the seven teams should compensate the fans," he said.

Although race suspensions for all seven teams are not a realistic option, because future events would then be left with only the six-car field that caused the controversy in the first place, the possibility of BAR being suspended cannot however be ruled out.

The FIA's decision to ban BAR for two races earlier this year because of the San Marino Grand Prix incident has shown that the governing body is willing to come down harsh on teams that it believes have broken the rules.

The seven Michelin teams have been charged with committing acts prejudicial to the interests of a competition and of motor sport in general in failing to ensure they had suitable tyres for the race, refusing to allow their cars to race and in making a demonstration by pulling into the pits before the start of the race.

The FIA itself was unavailable for comment.

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