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Q&A with Max Mosley

NEWS STORY
22/06/2005

What about the American fans who travelled long distances and spent a lot of money to see a race with only 6 cars?
Max Mosley: My personal view, and it is only my personal view, is that Michelin should offer to compensate the fans on a fair basis and ask the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to coordinate this. Then Tony George and Bernie Ecclestone should jointly announce that the US Grand Prix will take place at Indianapolis in 2006 and that anyone who had a ticket this year would be entitled to the same ticket free-of-charge next year. But I emphasise, that's just my personal view.

Should you not have just forgotten about the rules and put on a show for the fans?
MM: You cannot do that if you wish to remain a sport. Formula One is a sport which entertains. It is not entertainment disguised as sport. But even more importantly Formula One is a dangerous activity and it would be most unwise to make fundamental changes to a circuit without following tried and tested procedures. What happened was bad, but it can be put right. This is not true of a fatality.

Why did you refuse the request of some of the teams to install a chicane?
MM: The decision was taken (quite rightly in my view) by the FIA officials on the spot and notified to the teams on the Saturday evening. I did not learn about it until Sunday morning European time. They refused the chicane because it would have been unfair, against the rules and potentially dangerous.

Why unfair?
MM: Because modern Formula One cars are specially prepared for each circuit. To change radically a circuit like Indianapolis, which has very particular characteristics, would be a big disadvantage to the teams which had brought correct equipment to the event.

Is this why Ferrari objected?
MM: No, Ferrari had nothing whatever to do with the decision. They were never consulted. Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi, as the Bridgestone teams, were not involved.

Why would a chicane have been unfair, it would have been the same for everyone?
MM: No. The best analogy I can give is a downhill ski race. Suppose half the competitors at a downhill race arrive with short slalom skis instead of long downhill skis and tell the organiser to change the course because it would be dangerous to attempt the downhill with their short skis. They would be told to ski down more slowly. To make the competitors with the correct skis run a completely different course to suit those with the wrong skis would be contrary to basic sporting fairness.

Never mind about ski-ing, what about Formula One?
MM: OK, but it's the same from a purely motor racing point of view. Suppose some time in the future we have five teams with engines from major car companies and seven independent teams with engines from a commercial engine builder (as in the past). Imagine the seven independent teams all have an oil surge problem in Turn 13 due to a basic design fault in their engines. They would simply be told to drop their revs or slow down. There would be no question of a chicane.

All right, but why against the rules, surely you can change a circuit for safety reasons?
MM: There was no safety issue with the circuit. The problem was some teams had brought the wrong tyres. It would be like making all the athletes in a 100m sprint run barefoot because some had forgotten their shoes.

How can you say a chicane would be "potentially dangerous" when most of the teams wanted it for safety reasons?
MM: A chicane would completely change the nature of the circuit. It would involve an extra session of very heavy braking on each lap, for which the cars had not been prepared. The circuit would also not have been inspected and homologated with all the simulations and calculations which modern procedures require. Suppose there had been a fatal accident - how could we have justified such a breach of our fundamental safety procedures to an American court?

But it's what the teams wanted.
MM: It's what some of the teams wanted because they thought it might suit their tyres. They wanted it because they knew they could not run at full speed on the proper circuit. We cannot break our own rules just because some of the teams want us to.

Why did the FIA stop the teams using a different tyre flown in specially from France?
MM: It is completely untrue that we stopped them. We told them they could use the tyre, but that the stewards would undoubtedly penalise them to ensure they gained no advantage from breaking the rules by using a high-performance short-life tyre just for qualifying. We also had to make sure this did not set a precedent. However the question became academic, because Michelin apparently withdrew the tyre after trying it on a test rig.

Michelin were allowed to bring two types of tyre - why did they not have a back-up available?
MM: You would have to ask Michelin. Tyre companies usually bring an on-the-limit race tyre and a more conservative back-up which, although slower, is there to provide a safety net if there are problems.

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