Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone fears a driver could have been killed had the US Grand Prix in Indianapolis on gone ahead with all 10 teams.
The seven Michelin-shod teams pulled out of the race having being advised that their tyres were not safe.
All seven team principals, Michelin and Ecclestone have revealed they faced criminal charges had they raced against Michelin advice.
"We could easily have lost somebody so maybe we got lucky," said Ecclestone.
Indiana law means the teams could have been charged with endangering lives even if an accident had not occurred.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis said a statement issued by Michelin could have left the teams open to a legal challenge.
"Because of the document written by Michelin which said it was dangerous to race, we would have risked being sued, even if we had not had an accident," said Dennis.
Ecclestone applauded Michelin's stance on the matter and insisted Formula One should be grateful the problems were discovered in time.
He said: "I am pleased in a lot of ways that we didn't race. Had we done maybe those tyres wouldn't have lasted even with two chicanes.
Ecclestone also believes that the Indianapolis farce has not necessarily damaged the sport in America.
He added: "We are well known in America now. You have to look to the good in anything.
"I think if we do our job right, help promote the race and Michelin get behind us, which I'm sure they will, we will see it much bigger."
Six of the seven teams are in the process of appealing against guilty verdicts on two charges of bringing the sport into disrepute.
The FIA, world motorsport's governing body, has postponed punishment after finding against all seven teams on two comparatively trivial failings and Ecclestone wants the episode forgotten about.
"The way things have been dealt with, especially by Michelin, has been really good. They have stood up like men and said, 'We made a mistake and we are prepared to pay for it.'
"Everybody did what they thought was the right thing to do and with hindsight it probably was. We are sorry, we are there to entertain."
Renault, McLaren, Williams, Toyota, Sauber and BAR have all appealed against their guilty verdicts while Red Bull are "considering their options".