Bernie could be sued

UPDATE Bernie Ecclestone could be sued for the return of the $13.5m (£7.4m) it cost the Indianapolis organizers to stage the farcical US grand prix.
Ecclestone, the sport's commercial rights holder, was escorted away from the track on Sunday night as spectators hurled abuse at him. With many in the crowd of 160,000 becoming upset, two BAR-Honda team mechanics who left the track in their team gear were punched.

Yesterday race fans queued outside the track offices to demand a refund. Inside, Indianapolis Speedway was assessing the damage caused to its reputation.

Joie Chitwood, president and chief operating officer of the track, refused to rule out legal action. "We're going to analyze our situation, our position here," he said. "We're probably going to respond appropriately in the coming days. There are a number of questions like that which we will have to sit down and look at and come up with a better response."

Chitwood said huge damage had been done in terms of promoting formula one in the US. "I would say it is a major set back. We feel as victimized as the fans do in what they witnessed today. We had no control over the ability to stage an event. The people who had the ability to control things today were [the governing body] the FIA, Formula One Management and Michelin. I believe Mr Ecclestone is aware of the position and our unhappiness with what occurred."

Ecclestone responded by saying: "If I was a race organizer and I found myself in a position that I had to reimburse the paying customers, then I might well seek to make good my loss from somebody else.

"On the other hand you could take the view that Indianapolis had a round of the formula one world championship and that's it. The Indy organizers are well versed with the unpredictability of this business. IRL and Nascar races can be delayed by a day or so because they don't race in the rain."

The race, won by Michael Schumacher, degenerated into chaos when only six cars started after the teams running on Michelin withdrew due to safety concerns. All seven Michelin teams have been summoned to an FIA meeting on June 29 in Paris. The Guardian

06/21/05 F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is tipped to land in court after Indianapolis Motor Speedway bosses fumed at their unfair treatment in the US grand prix. Indy CEO Tony George forked out a cool $13.5 million for Sunday's absurd six-car procession.

Bernie, 74, admitted that George may well want to refund tickets. ''If I found myself in (that) position,'' the little Englishman conceded, ''then I might well seek to make good my loss.''

Bernie's conciliatory attitude was probably fashioned after irate fans screamed abuse at him as he left the 'Brickyard' on Sunday. In addition, two BAR mechanics were punched, and Red Bull's team members wisely made their way back to the hotel wearing 'Indy' t-shirts.

Ecclestone, though, also suggested that the Speedway can handle the often inconvenient nuances of racing. ''IRL and NASCAR can be delayed because of rain,'' he noted. GMMf1NET

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