Q and A with Max Mosley
June 21, 2005
What follows is a press release from the FIA in which Max Mosley
answers questions on the events on the US Grand Prix, during before
What about the American fans who traveled long distances and
spent a lot of money to see a race with only six cars?
"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 emphasize, that’s just my personal view."
Should you not have just forgotten about the rules and put on a
show for the fans?
"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
Why did you refuse the request of some of the teams to install a
"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."
"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?
"No, Ferrari had nothing whatever to do with the decision. They
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
"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 organizer 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?
"Okay, 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
All right, but why against the rules, surely you can change a
circuit for safety reasons?
"There was no safety issue with the circuit. The problem was some
teams had brought the wrong tires. It would be like making all the
athletes in a 100m sprint run barefoot because some had forgotten
How can you say a chicane would be “potentially dangerous” when
most of the teams wanted it for safety reasons?
"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.
"It’s what some of the teams wanted because they thought it might
suit their tires. 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 tire flown in
specially from France?
"It is completely untrue that we stopped them. We told them they
could use the tire, but that the stewards would undoubtedly penalize
them to ensure they gained no advantage from breaking the rules by
using a high-performance short-life tire 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
tire after trying it on a test rig."
Michelin were allowed to bring two types of tire – why did they
not have a back-up available?
"You would have to ask Michelin. Tire companies usually bring an on-
the-limit race tire and a more conservative back-up which, although
slower, is there to provide a safety net if there are
Is it true that you wrote to both tire companies asking them to
make sure their tires were safe?
"Yes, we wrote on 1 June and both replied positively. The letter
prompted by incidents in various races in addition to rumors of
problems in private testing."
So, having refused to install a chicane, what did the FIA suggest
the Michelin teams should do?
"We offered them three possibilities. First, to use the type of
they qualified on but with the option to change the troublesome left
rear whenever necessary. Tire changes are allowed under current
rules provided they are for genuine safety reasons, which would
clearly have been the case here. Secondly, to use a different tire –
but this became academic when Michelin withdrew it as already
explained. Thirdly, to run at reduced speed through Turn 13, as
Michelin had requested."
How can you expect a racing driver to run at reduced speed
through a corner?
"They do it all the time and that is exactly what Michelin
requested. If they have a puncture they reduce their speed until
they can change a wheel; if they have a brake problem they adjust
their driving to overcome it. They also adjust their speed and
driving technique to preserve tires and brakes when their fuel load
is heavy. Choosing the correct speed is a fundamental skill for a
But that would have been unfair, surely some would have gone
through the corner faster than others?
"No, Michelin wanted their cars slowed in Turn 13. They could have
given their teams a maximum speed. We offered to set up a speed
trap and show a black and orange flag to any Michelin driver
exceeding the speed limit. He would then have had to call in the
pits – effectively a drive-through penalty."
How would a driver know what speed he was doing?
"His team would tell him before the race the maximum revs he could
run in a given gear in Turn 13. Some might even have been able to
give their driver an automatic speed limiter like they use in the
But would this be real racing?
"It would make no difference to the race between the Michelin cars.
Obviously the Bridgestone cars would have had an advantage, but this
would have been as a direct result of having the correct tires for
the circuit on which everyone had previously agreed to race."
Did the Michelin teams have any other way of running the race if
the circuit itself was unchanged?
"Yes, they could have used the pit lane on each lap. The pit lane
part of the circuit. This would have avoided Turn 13 altogether.
It is difficult to understand why none of them did this, because 7th
and 8th places were certainly available, plus others if any of the
six Bridgestone runners did not finish. There were points available
which might change the outcome of the World Championship."
But that would have looked very strange – could you call that a
"It would seem strange, but it would absolutely have been a race for
the 14 cars concerned. And they would all have been at full speed
for most of each lap. That would have been a show for the fans,
certainly infinitely better than what happened."
Did not Michelin tell them quite simply not to race at all?
"No. Michelin said speed must be reduced in Turn 13. They were
apparently not worried about the rest of the circuit and certainly
not about the pit lane, where a speed limit applies. If the
instruction had been not to race at all, there would have been no
point in asking for a chicane."
Didn’t the Michelin teams offer to run for no points?
"I believe so, but why should the Bridgestone teams suddenly find
they had gone all the way to America to run in a non-Championship
race? It would be like saying there could be no medals in the
Olympic rowing because some countries had brought the wrong
What about running the race with the chicane but with points only
for the Bridgestone teams?
"This would start to enter the world of the circus, but even then
race would have been open to the same criticisms on grounds of
fairness and safety as a Championship race run with a chicane. It
would have been unfair on Bridgestone teams to finish behind
Michelin teams on a circuit which had been specially adapted to suit
the Michelin low-speed tires to the detriment of Bridgestone’s high-
speed tires, and the circuit would no longer have met the
Have you ordered Michelin to produce details of all recent tire
failures as reported on a website?
"We cannot order Michelin to do anything. We have no contractual
relationship with them. Their relationship is with the teams.
However, we have an excellent understanding with both tire companies
and with many of the teams’ other suppliers. We find they always
help us with technical information when we ask them."
Wouldn’t Formula One be better if one body were responsible for
the commercial side as well as the sport?
"No, this is precisely what the competition law authorities in many
parts of the world seek to avoid. It is not acceptable to them that
the international governing body should have the right both to
sanction and to promote. This would potentially enable it to
further its own financial interests to the detriment of competitors
and organizers. Apart from the legal aspect there would be an
obvious and very undesirable conflict of interest if a body charged
with administering a dangerous sport had to consider the financial
consequences of a decision taken for safety reasons.. You can be
responsible for the sport or for the money, but not both."
Didn’t this entire problem arise because new regulations require
one set of tires to last for qualifying and the race?
"No. The tire companies have no difficulty making tires last. The
difficult bit is making a fast tire last. There is always a
compromise between speed and reliability. There have been one or
two cases this season of too much speed and not enough reliability.
Indianapolis was the most recent and worst example."
Finally, what’s going to happen on June 29 in Paris?
"We will listen carefully to what the teams have to say. There are
two sides to every story and the seven teams must have a full
opportunity to tell theirs. The atmosphere will be calm and
polite. The World Motor Sport Council members come from all over
the world and will undoubtedly take a decision that is fair and
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