...but cleared of bringing sport into disrepute
The seven Michelin teams must wait until September to discover their punishment after they were found guilty on Wednesday of two charges relating to their failure to race in the US Grand Prix.
Following a meeting of the FIAs World Motor Sport Council attended by the teams in Paris, President Max Mosley revealed that they were deemed guilty of not being in possession of suitable tyres for the event, but with strong mitigating circumstances, and of wrongfully refusing to allow their cars to start the race.
The teams were cleared of three other charges of refusing to race subject to a speed limit, of combining to make a demonstration damaging to the image of the sport by stopping after the parade lap and of not informing the race stewards of their plans to withdraw.
However, the Council decided to delay a decision on what punishment the teams will receive until a further extraordinary meeting on September 14. Before then Mosley said they would be considering the steps taken by Michelin and/or the seven teams to compensate fans who attended the US race and to ensure nothing similar happens again.
Speaking in a press conference following the Council meeting, Mosley hinted that if the situation has been satisfactorily resolved by then, penalties were likely to be financial, rather than extending to points deductions or race bans. He stressed that the FIAs primary concern was the American fans and the image of Formula One racing in the United States.
Mosley added that he held Michelin responsible for the affair, but pointed out that the FIA is powerless to punish the tyre company directly, as they are a supplier and not a competitor, hence their teams were held accountable.
The teams concerned are BAR, McLaren, Sauber, Williams, Toyota, Red Bull and Renault. They refused to race at Indianapolis after Michelin said they could not guarantee the safety of their tyres over a Grand Prix distance through the banked turn 13. Numerous options for slowing the cars were proposed by Michelin, the FIA and the teams, but none could be agreed.
Michelin subsequently apologised for failing to bring suitable tyres to the event and admitted they had simply miscalculated the demands created by the banking with cars in 2005 configuration. They have since offered to refund the tickets of the Indianapolis fans, but have stood by their claims that inflexibility on the part of the FIA prevented the race going ahead.