FIA president latest war of words

Whilst it is not unusual for rows to erupt between Formula One’s three headed hydra represented by the teams, the FIA and F1’s commercial rights holders, the most recent spat resulted in the unusual threat of legal action.

The new president of the FIA replacing Jean Todt who had served at the head of F1’s regulatory body for over 12 years found himself immediately in the firing lie when he assumed his duties following the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.



New FIA president combative

Following the decision of the FIA’s race director to resume the 2021 season finale for one lap, Lewis Hamilton lost the race and the drivers’ title to Max Verstappen.

Hamilton refused to attend the mandatory FIA gala for the season’s top three drivers and was immediately criticised and sanctioned by new boy Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

The FIA has faced a barrage of criticism over the first two years of Ben Sulayem’s tenure predominantly for alleged inconsistent penalties being issued. Mohammed Ben Sulayem himself has been heavily criticised by drivers, teams and Liberty Media executives for micro managing the sport.

Earlier this year the former rally driver stepped back from the day to day running of Formula One following a row with F1 supremo Stefano Domenicali the valuation of the sport and a potential sale to the Saudi’s.



F1 threaten legal action

The company Domenicali represents issued a terse statement which concluded:

“Ben Sulayem has overstepped his authority. Any individual or organisation that comments on the value of a listed entity, especially by implying that it has inside knowledge in doing so, risks causing substantial harm to the shareholders and investors of that entity, not to mention potential exposure to serious regulatory consequences.”

Since then all has been quite at the top of Formula One, but a report today suggests that the FIA president is unhappy with the plaudits Domenicali et al are receiving for the explosion in F1 interest whilst the FIA has taken the brunt of criticism from both the teams and F1 pundits.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem also believes that the many perceive it is that Stefan Domenicali is running F1 and this is something the FIA president finds unacceptable.

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F1 Cost cap audit delays

Ahead of the impending announcement of the FIA’s findings over the latest team’s cost cap investigations, Stefano Domenicali has now criticised the regulatory body over their handling of the matter.

It was originally envisioned the findings of the cost cap audits should be revealed each year at the end of June. This prevents the speculation Red Bull suffered last year when the process was elongated such that leaks were made to the press creating rampant speculation.

With the F1 summer break fast approaching the latest FIA cost cap announcement not year in sight, Domenicali reminds the organisation of its duty to the teams and fans of Formula One in an ill disguised critical interview.



Domenicali critical of FIA

“Control is in the hands of the FIA,” Domenicali said of the process.

“Personally what I have asked is to anticipate as soon as possible the publication of the investigations made by the staff of the FIA.

“But I say this only because, in this way, it does not give rise to speculation and comments that are not good for anyone.”

Red Bull Racing were found to be in a “minor breach” of th cost cap last year and received the second highest fine ever issued by the FIA of $7m and a technical penalty which reduced their aerodynamic testing time for 12 months.

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F1 Sporting penalties now demanded

However, Domenicali now feels the FIA is adopting the wrong approach to the penalties arising under any cost cap breach arguing Sporting penalties are more appropriate.

“I would like the penalty to be sporting in case of infringement, it is something we asked for very clearly,” he explained to Autosport.

“There are three regulations to be respected: sporting, technical and financial. Any infractions must be punished with sporting measures. You can’t go in other directions.”

However, the F1 supremo is being disingenuous suggesting this is the fault of the FIA. The cost cap penalties and categorisation of minor overspend required the agreement of the teams prior to the FIA forming the regulations.

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F1 power struggle resumes

This is only likely to put Ben Sulayem’s back up further who is set to show the world who decides what when it comes to Formula One.

A report yesterday in German media outlet AMuS states the FIA are set to approve the applications to join F1 of two teams being Andretti and current European junior category entrant Hitech.

Ben Sulayem in recent weeks has been vocal in his support of the Andretti/GM bid claiming if they meet the criteria “how can I say no???”

F1 and Domenicali have supported the teams’ view that they don’t want any new teams joining the sport for a variety of reasons. Yet the teams are really only concerned about how much they’ll get out of it and have suggested the entrance fee paid should tree to $600m. This would be divided amongst the current ten contenders on the grid.

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F1 faces fans anger

Yet it was the teams who two years ago agreed the Concorde agreement binding them, the FIA and F1 to a clause that states any new entrant should pay just $200m to join the sport.

The new Concorde agreement begins in 2026 but by then Andretti will most likely have joined and completed their first season.

As and when the new teas are given the green light by FIA president Ben Sulayem, he will back away and suggest his hand was forced due to potential legal action for unfair practices and anti competition.

Given the fans support overwhelmingly the new teams, should F1 and Domenicali somehow refuse their entry, the legal fallout then sits with Liberty Media and the fans recent anger will shift from the FIA towards the F1 bosses.

READ MORE: Horner speaks with “forked tongue”

One response to “FIA president latest war of words

  1. F1 needs to get rid of any oversight by the corrupt FIA , then they need to get liberty media removed as rights holders, neither have the interest in the health of F1 or motorsports in general in mind both are interested in meeting ney and micromanaging Motorsports in general, instead new governing body needs to be elected every two years the governs F1 and regulates the teams, similar bodies should be setup for each class over Motorsport eh. F2,F3 etc, with a new body for world motorsport that does not control regulation of the sports specific bodies but is responsible for passing beneficial changes from one body to all the eib bodies for discussion regarding application across the board.

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