SEPTEMBER 4, 2003
Ferrari admits Michelin complaint
Ferrari's Ross Brawn has come clean about his team's role in the current tyre controversy, admitting that it was Ferrari which alerted the FIA to what he considered to be an problem with the Michelin front tyres. Brawn told the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport that Bridgestone had initiated the process when they "got hold of some photos taken in the paddock by a Japanese". Brawn claims that these showed "unequivocally that the front Michelin tyres had an excessively large tread after being used."
Brawn said that Ferrari went to Charlie Whiting and that resulted in the FIA Race Director sending out his warning letter to the other F1 teams.
"We could have pretended to have seen nothing, to not let the FIA know and then lodge a complaint at the following race," Brawn said in justification. "That didn't seem like the right thing to do."
The FIA said that "as Ferrari have confirmed, it was they who pointed out to the FIA Technical Delegate that tyres which had a tread width of 270mm when new, appeared to be using a greater tread width when in use. Having checked this information, Charlie Whiting warned the relevant tyre company informally immediately after the race in Hungary. On his return to the office three days later he wrote to inform all the teams.
"The rules are not concerned with parts of the tyre which make occasional contact with the track or kerbs, but parts which are in regular or systematic contact with the track and thus constitute tread. There is reason to believe that the tyres in question may not be identical to those in use at the start of the season. The tyres in question either comply with the regulation or they do not. If they are used in Monza in combination with a car set-up which gives more than 270mm tread width, the stewards and, ultimately, the FIA Court of Appeal will have to decide if the rules have been broken."
Michelin has said that it has a written confirmation from the FIA that its tyres are legal but our sources at the federation say that the validity of the document may be voided if different car set-ups have been used to make the tyres work in a different way with the result that the tyres use more tread than is allowed.
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