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JULY 2, 2005

Team bosses reiterate Indianapolis problems

The seven Formula 1 teams which use Michelin tyres held a press briefing outside the Michelin motorhome on Friday at Magny Cours, to restate the facts of what happened at the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis to ensure that the problem is understood not only by the media but also by the fans and other interested parties.

"We had no option other than not to race," said Ron Dennis, who had been designated to speak for the teams. |"We had a problem that was developing throughout the weekend until it reached a point of clarity at 06.30 on Sunday morning."

Dennis explained that initially Michelin had believed that the problem was unique to Toyota until tyres were inspected on Friday afternoon and an additional six tyres were found with a fault.

"Those tyres were shipped back to France and the first impression was that it was a batch problem." Dennis said. "To provide us with an option if the investigation proved that, tyres developed for Barcelona were shipped to Indianapolis as a back-up. They arrived at 08.30 on Saturday morning. As we moved into Saturday Michelin told us that they were not able to isolate the problem at Clermont-Ferrand and still did not know the root cause problem of the tyre failure. Michelin told us to do no more than 10 cumulative laps on the tyres and the majority of teams did no more than four flying laps. The tyres that came off those cars were flown to South Carolina for scanning to determine if they were in a good condition."

The teams then did one flying lap each in qualifying and the left rear tyres were flown to another Michelin facility in Akron, accompanied by FIA personnel because of parc ferme regulations, and these were scanned there. Back in France experiments continued to try to determine the problem and the testing machines were upgraded in performance and the problem was finally explained as having been related solely to the conditions in Turn 13.

"At 06.30 on Sunday morning we were advised that we had a critical problem. In the simulated conditions of the corner the tyres had failed," Dennis said. "They had also failed with the Barcelona tyres. We had no tyres we could race with. The critical document came at 08.00 on Sunday morning which said we could not race unless speed was reduced in that particular corner. Throughout the balance of the day every effort was made to find a solution. We were in a very difficult situation. The simple fact is that the teams put safety before any commercial consideration. A point that was cleared appreciated by the drivers. This problem unfolded all the way through to 11.40 when the decision to go to the grid was taken at the request of Bernie. The option of racing did not exist."

Dennis explained that the teams were later informed that the laws in Indiana are such that the teams could have been prosecuted for reckless endangerment if they had raced knowing that there was a problem with the tyres, even if there had not been an accident. The only thing that Michelin would agree to was to put in a chicane. The option of running sequences of 10 laps never existed."

When asked to explain why the chicane was not agreed the bosses declined to comment.