FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem says he will be taking a step back from direct involvement in Formula 1. The Emirati’s move follows a string of controversies since he became the president of F1’s governing body in December 2021.
Ben Sulayem’s hands-on role over the past year has lead to a few upsets, including but not limited to his blocking for six months of an agreement between the teams and F1 to double the number of sprint race weekends for 2023, a cease-and-desist letter from F1’s lawyers following his reaction on social media to a report claiming that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund had tried to buy the sport for 20 billion dollars and the emergence of an old website that quoted him making misogynistic remarks.
A letter from Ben Sulayem to the teams said that their “day-to-day contact for all matters on F1” would be the FIA director of single-seater racing Nikolas Tombazis, who was the former head of the FIA’s technical department before entering his new role in a reshuffle of the governing body’s F1 department in January, 2023.
This included the recruitment of F1’s Steve Nielsen to the important role of Race Director, with the desire to improve the smoothness of the sport’s operation after a few major hiccups in recent years, including that Abu Dhabi 2021 season finale.
Featured image courtesy of REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem at the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix