Ben Sulayem’s ‘detrimental' involvement could prompt F1 breakaway from FIA

F1 owners Liberty Media could lose patience and consider breaking away from governing body the FIA amid fresh tension, it has been claimed.
(L to R): Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Form
(L to R): Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Form

Concerns have been raised relating to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s continued direct involvement in F1, which is considered by senior figures to be “detrimental to the sport”, according to BBC Sport.

The BBC’s report details that F1 teams have “viewed a series of incidents in recent months as having a direct link to Ben Sulayem”.

These are thought to include the decision to re-investigate Lewis Hamilton for crossing a live track at the Qatar Grand Prix, as well as the summoning of Mercedes and Ferrari team principals Toto Wolff and Fred Vasseur for bad-tempered exchanges during a press conference at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Ben Sulayem, who was elected as FIA president in December 2021, stepped back from overseeing F1 in a day-to-day capacity earlier this year after finding himself at the centre of several controversies.

He still remains involved in strategic matters and top-level decision making.

Mohammed Bin Sulayem (UAE) FIA President and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in parc ferme. Formula 1 World
Mohammed Bin Sulayem (UAE) FIA President and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes…

The 62-year-old Emirati's very public stance on the possible entry of new teams and the potential sale of the sport’s commercial rights particularly irked F1 bosses.

Relations between F1 and the FIA appeared to be improving in recent months but the BBC was told by “a number of sources” at last month’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that a possible breakaway could be back on the cards if Ben Sulayem continued to act in the same manner. 

F1 and the FIA were at loggerheads again on Tuesday as they clashed over allegations of a conflict of interest - initially reported as involving Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and his wife, Susie, who is director of the F1 Academy.

The FIA announced an investigation into the accusations which have been vehemently refuted by both F1 and Mercedes.

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