Teams could face sanctions after U.S. GP flap

PARIS -- Formula One's governing body on Monday summoned
seven teams using Michelin tires to a hearing later this month
after they pulled out of the United States Grand Prix for safety

The FIA hearing in Paris on June 29 could lead to a range of
punishments including fines, docked points or even suspensions --
possibly throwing the F1 season into chaos with 10 races left.

Michelin provides seven of the 10 F1 teams with tires. Only six
cars -- using Bridgestone tires -- started the race in Indianapolis
on Sunday after 14 drivers left the track following the warmup lap.
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher won, climbing from his car to a chorus
of boos.

Teams from Renault, McLaren-Mercedes, Toyota and Williams-BMW --
none of which raced -- were told to attend the Paris hearing.

Two Michelin tires failed in Friday practice sessions -- one
causing a wreck that prevented Ralf Schumacher from competing --
prompting Michelin to rule its tires were unsafe for the
Indianapolis track.

But FIA said it had "clear rules" that everyone had to keep.

"These cannot be negotiated each time a competitor brings the
wrong equipment to a race," FIA said in a statement.

Michelin had unsuccessfully asked FIA to ease its rule
forbidding teams to change tires after qualifying. FIA also refused
to consider installing a curve. Michelin then advised its teams not
to compete.

"What about the American fans? What about Formula One fans
worldwide? Rather than boycott the race the Michelin teams should
have agreed to run at reduced speed in turn 13," FIA said,
referring to the part of the Indianapolis circuit that Michelin
said was too fast for their tires.

"By refusing to run ... they have damaged themselves and the

Michelin defended its decision.

"We are absolutely not embarrassed about our decision, although
we do have regrets for the fans of Formula One and for the racing
drivers of course," Frederic Henry-Biabaud, Michelin's deputy
director of competition, told The Associated Press in a telephone
interview Monday.

"We feel it is a reasonable decision and we were professional
to bear in mind primarily the safety of the drivers,"
Henry-Biabaud said. "We had no other choice."

He called the United States a safety-minded country and said
there would have been an uproar if there were a crash Sunday.

"Imagine what would have happened in the United States if there
was an accident ... What would have been the reaction if we'd
allowed the drivers to race and something bad happened?" he said.

Henry-Biabaud said Michelin's involvement in F1 would continue,
and dismissed speculation only one tiremaker would be allowed to
supply cars from now on.

"Competition at the highest level includes competition between
tire makers. I don't see why it would change," he said.

Henry-Biabaud said the problems with the tires were largely due
to the design of the Indianapolis track.

"At Indianapolis, the tire coating suffers," he added. "The
circuit is very traditional but the straight line before the
banking delivers massive pressure on the car and the tires. For the
car to do the whole race we have to be sure the tires can last."

Henry-Biabaud said FIA should have built a temporary curve
before the banked corner to reduce speeds and lessen pressure on
the tires.

Michelin said it has no concerns for the French Grand Prix on
July 3.

"The Magny-Cours circuit is well known to Michelin technicians
who use it regularly for testing," the manufacturer said.

FIA said putting in a curve would have been unfair to those
using Bridgestone tires.

"The Bridgestone teams had suitable tires. They did not need to
slow down," FIA said. "The Michelin teams' lack of speed through
turn 13 would have been a direct result of inferior equipment, as
often happens in Formula One."

The FIA also pointed out that each team is allowed to bring two
sets of tires, including a slower tire suitable in all

"Apparently, none of the Michelin teams brought a backup to
Indianapolis," it noted.