Michelin offers US refund

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The Independent Online

The tyre supplier Michelin has offered to refund the 120,000 fans who bought tickets for the farcical United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.

Michelin prompted a seven-team walkout by advising that their tyres were unfit to race, drawing an angry reaction from fans who saw just three teams contest the race.

But, 24 hours before the seven teams - Renault, McLaren, Williams, Toyota, Sauber, Red Bull and BAR - face a disciplinary hearing in Paris, Michelin answered Max Mosley's call to refund the fans.

Mosley, president of world governing body, the FIA, believes a refund would be a good step to repairing the damage done to Formula One's image in the US.

Michelin has gone further by offering to buy 20,000 tickets for next year's race and distribute them free. A statement read: "Michelin wishes to make a sincere gesture of goodwill towards the people present, a group whose passion for F1 is encouraging in the development of the sport in the United States."

However, Edouard Michelin, the Michelin chairman, has also rebuked Mosley for "erroneous" allegations after the US Grand Prix .

"Will you at least recognise publicly that we have taken a courageous, honest and transparent stance for the safety of the drivers?," Michelin asked in a letter.

The teams had asked for a temporary chicane to be installed after fears that Michelin tyres might fail on the high-speed turn 13, a request rejected by the FIA.

Investigations had shown that loads on rear-left tyres through turn 13 were larger than Michelin engineers' highest estimates.