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F1 drivers question Mosley's attitude

Alan Baldwin | July 06, 2005 12:20 IST

Formula One drivers have questioned the attitude of Max Mosley, head of the sport's governing body, towards their attempts to improve safety.

They expressed their concern in letter signed at Sunday's French Grand Prix and released on Tuesday after the International Automobile Federation (FIA) president cancelled a scheduled meeting with them.

The document was signed by all race drivers with the exception of Ferrari's seven times world champion Michael Schumacher and -- significantly -- Red Bull's David Coulthard and Christian Klien.

In it they mentioned a telephone conversation between Mosley and a Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) director, known to be Coulthard, the day before a meeting of the FIA's world motor sport council on June 29 to hear charges against the seven Michelin teams who did not take part in the U.S. Grand Prix.

Nineteen drivers also signed a statement after that race in support of the teams who withdrew when the French company said it could not guarantee the safety of its tyres through the final banked corner at Indianapolis.

"We were...concerned to learn that during the course of this telephone conversation, you suggested the FIA might withdraw support for the ongoing safety initiatives of the GPDA," the drivers said in their open letter.

"Previously the FIA had also dissuaded driver representation in Paris for the world motor sport council meeting.

"The GPDA believes that safety issues are of the highest importance and are disappointed not to receive the full support of the FIA president in this matter."

KEY CONCERN

Mosley has made safety a cornerstone of his presidency and reiterated his commitment on Tuesday in a letter to Coulthard, saying: "As you know, we consider improving driver safety to be of paramount importance."

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The FIA head had cited comments made by Coulthard to the media at Magny-Cours as the reason for the cancellation of Friday's meeting at Silverstone.

He said they had distorted the purpose of the meeting and made "calm discussion of a major safety issue" impossible.

The meeting at the British Grand Prix was to have discussed the possibility of the FIA imposing safety measures at private test sessions, something many drivers are concerned about, on a par with those at grands prix.

It would also have allowed drivers to express their concerns about the U.S. Grand Prix tyre crisis.

Mosley is increasingly at odds with the teams, Ferrari excepted, in a battle for the sport's future with the carmakers who own most of the teams threatening their own series from 2008 when a commercial agreement expires.

That situation has worsened since Indianapolis with the Michelin teams found guilty on two of five charges levelled against them by the governing body. Any penalties have been deferred until September.

Teams have in turn blamed Mosley for the fiasco by vetoing their proposal for a temporary chicane.

Minardi owner Paul Stoddart has called repeatedly for Mosley's resignation.


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