Sexist remarks, clashes with drivers, interference with races and a plethora of other controversies have forced a major shift in F1 just weeks before the season opener.
The president of motorsport’s governing body, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has relinquished day-to-day control of Formula One after a series of controversies during his time at the wheel.
The 61-year-old former rally driver took over as President of the FIA, which governs F1 and other motorsport competitions, in December 2021. He announced his decision to step down in a letter to team bosses yesterday (Wednesday).
Ben Sulayem, who hails from the United Arab Emirates, has clashed with F1 over his comments on the value of the sport and his statement that drivers would be sanctioned for making political statements.
Last month, historic sexist remarks were revealed on his now-defunct personal website, in which he said he “don’t like women who think they’re smarter than men”. The FIA said the sexist comments did not reflect his beliefs.
Ben Sulayem said in his letter that FIA Director of Singles Racing Nikolas Tombazis would now be the main point of contact for F1.
“My stated goal was to become a non-executive president through the recruitment of a team of professional managers, which is now largely complete,” he wrote.
“Therefore, going forward your day-to-day contact for all F1 matters will be with Nikolas and his team, while I will focus on strategic matters with my leadership team.”
Ben Sulayem, who remains in charge of the FIA was the focus of F1 last season, presenting trophies at a number of Grands Prix.
Last month he was accused of “unacceptable” interference from F1 in response to a series of tweets in which he said a $28 billion valuation of the sport was “inflated”.
Ben Sulayem has been told the FIA could be “liable” for damaging the financial value of F1 owner Liberty Media.
He also fell out with Lewis Hamilton last season over wearing jewelry in the cockpit, while the FIA recently took steps to prevent drivers from making “political, religious or personal” comments without prior authorisation.
At the launch of Williams’ 2023 car this week, British-Thai driver Alex Albon said drivers were “concerned” about the FIA’s decision.
F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali said on Tuesday: “F1 will not put a gag on anyone. Everyone wants to talk, so [it is right to give them] the platform to say what they want in the right way. I believe the FIA will clarify what has been said.”
Originally released as F1 President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem steps aside following the recent sexism controversy
https://www.codesports.com.au/more-sports/f1-president-mohammed-ben-sulayem-steps-aside-after-latest-sexism-controversy/news-story/b590c7b19dcc0a9d70f976b4d666cc39?nk=7b6962266b1a86a90ef5ab81ad7ea870-1676130737 F1 President Mohammed Ben Sulayem