Pressure has been ramping up on the president of the FIA in recent weeks over a number of issues. Mohammed ben Sulayem appears to favour the Andretti bid to become an 11th F1 team whereas the current teams are against the dilution of the prize money.
Further the FIA has clamped down on drivers making personal statements on political or human rights issues.
F1 $20bn valuation crisis
The final straw to crack the camels back came when Mohammed ben Sulayem commented that the rumoured $20bn offer from the Saudi’s to buy Formula One’s commercial rights. Taking to twitter the FIA president suggested the price tag was “inflated” and that the FIA would defend the interest of the fans if such a scenario became a reality.
Liberty Media’s lawyers wrote to the FIA in a strongly worded letter demanding Mohammed ben Sulayem cease and desist from his “interference” and that should the value of the brand they were promoting suffer detrimentally then legal redress would follow immediately.
F1 is merely “rented out” by FIA
Following the receipt of the letter Ben Sulayem suggested to assembled media at the Monte Carlo Rally that Formula One belonged to the FIA they just “rented it out.” However, Craig Slater of Sky News, who has broken much of the story and recently suggested a plot was afoot to oust the FIA president, now reports there is a cease fire in hostilities.
“The FIA, the governing body, does not have a day-to-day commercial role in the running of the sport. F1 subsequently sent a letter to the FIA, making it very plain they thought this was an unacceptable thing for the president of the FIA to do.
“I can reveal that no reply has come from the FIA to F1 but I can say that positive conversations continue between the two institutions. They are functioning normally as they need to do to keep the sport operating properly.
Normal communications resume between F1 and the FIA
“I’m told there are positive conversations at all levels between those two organisations.
“People are still telling me they have issues with the kind of personal style of leadership Mohammed Ben Sulayem has at the FIA .
“These are the high-ranking individuals at a number of Formula One teams. So let’s see how that develops.
“There is still this friction, maybe Mohammed Ben Sulayem seems to be gesturing one way and Formula One and the drivers to an extent in some areas are pulling in another direction.
“And that will have to be resolved in the short term for the sport to function properly.”
Plot to oust FIA president revealed
TJ13 reported recently that the Liberty Media top brass wish to remove Mohammed Ben Sulayem as FIA president and replace him with ex-F1 team principal and head of UK Motorsports Dave Richards.
Then co-incidentally Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s comments from a defunct website were leaked to the media which suggested he was in fact sexist.
The fact the FIA have not responded to Liberty Media’s strongly worded letter does not indicate they have been cowed by its threats. Rather, the organisation does not believe the nature of the threats and allegations made to be anything more than a shot across the bows.
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— Rob (@GrandPrixDiary) February 2, 2023