PARIS (June 29)—Groupe Michelin is offering to reimburse spectators who attended the recent U.S. Grand Prix, where all 14 racers using Michelin tires were forced to withdraw because Michelin was unsure about the safety of the tires on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway´s banked turn.
The company said its offer, being made on its own initiative and in "total solidarity" with its Formula 1 team partners, is a "sincere gesture of goodwill."
Michelin also is offering to buy 20,000 tickets to the 2006 U.S. Grand Prix and offer them to spectators who attended the 2005 race in order to "promote further Formula 1 interest in the U.S."
The tire maker did not quantify the possible cost of its offer, but grandstand tickets for the Grand Prix range from $75 to $150. Attendance at the June 19 race was estimated at less than 100,000, putting the value of its offer at close to $10 million, if all fans seek refunds, and another $1.5 million to $2 million for the 2006 offer.
Michelin also criticized the Federation Internationale de l´Automobile, the F1 sanctioning body, for accusing the affected teams of having boycotted the Grand Prix.
"The reality is that together, Michelin and its partners have done everything possible to assure that the race could take place in total safety," the company said.