Formula One's governing body summoned seven teams using Michelin tires to a hearing this month after they pulled out of the United States Grand Prix for safety reasons.
The FIA hearing in Paris on June 29 could lead to an array of punishments -- including fines, docked points or even suspensions -- and possibly throw the F1 season into chaos with 10 races left.
Michelin provides seven of the 10 F1 teams with tires. Only six cars -- using Bridgestone tires -- started the race in Indianapolis on Sunday after 14 drivers left the track following the warmup lap. Ferrari's Michael Schumacher won, climbing from his car to a chorus of boos.
Teams from Renault, McLaren-Mercedes, Toyota, Williams-BMW, BAR-Honda, Sauber and Red Bull -- none of which raced -- were told to attend the Paris hearing.
Two Michelin tires failed during Friday's practices, prompting Michelin to rule its tires were unsafe for the Indianapolis track.
"What about the American fans? What about Formula One fans worldwide? Rather than boycott the race the Michelin teams should have agreed to run at reduced speed in Turn 13," FIA said, referring to the part of the Indianapolis circuit that Michelin said was too fast for their tires. "By refusing to run . . . they have damaged themselves and the sport."
Michelin defended its decision.
"We are absolutely not embarrassed about our decision, although we do have regrets for the fans of Formula One and for the racing drivers, of course," Frederic Henry-Biabaud, Michelin's deputy director of competition, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview yesterday.
He said there would have been an uproar if there had been a crash Sunday.
"Imagine what would have happened in the United States if there was an accident. . . . What would have been the reaction if we'd allowed the drivers to race and something bad happened?" he asked.
-- From News Services