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1-mohammed ben sulayem FIA President takes on teams

Inside Line: Ben Sulayem not afraid to take on F1 and teams

1-mohammed ben sulayem FIA President takes on teams

It has emerged that during last month’s Formula 1 Commission meeting in London after the Imola race, current FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has flexed FIA muscles by demanding more payment for the “unseen work” done during F1 weekends by the staff of the organisation he heads.

Motorsport Magazine’s Chris Medland reports that Ben Sulayem wants the $40-million, they reportedly receive depending on the number of Grand Prix weekends per season, upped substantially and made it clear (according to insiders) that he would not budge on calls for more Sprint Race weekends without extra funding, which is said to have irked F1 officials and team bosses.

Medland reports: “It could well prove to be a significant moment in the relationship between F1 and the FIA, as the relatively new president sets out his stall and chases both a bigger piece of the pie at the same time as showing his willingness to upset the other main stakeholders.

“Whether there are legitimate demands or not, the lack of a recent similar example suggests F1 and the FIA have found ways to agree on compromises when their views don’t align. But this time it’s not the case, and it leaked out very quickly. This might be the first stand-off of many between the two,” concludes Medland’s post, suggesting Ben Sulayem is not finished.

When things go well no one remembers the FIA, when not then they get the blame

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There is the reality in F1 that when things go well on track, the FIA is relatively anonymous but when the proverbial ‘sh!t hits the fan’, the governing body tends to cop the most flack, at times perhaps deservedly but other times without real reason and substance.

In the end, like referees in ball sports, the more ‘invisible’ they are, the better the job they are doing.

With F1 booming, Liberty Media are targeting a record length 23-race F1 season this year; of course, much has been written about the stress and time away from base for team staff members doing the races, but Ben Sulayem points to little if any mention made of the numerous FIA officials that make the show happen.

Hence, as teams demand more money for sprint races and more Grand Prix weekends, it stands to reason that the FIA have their demands too. If Ben Sulayem’s stance and attitude is offensive to some, then so be it, as he sweeps away the cobwebs of Jean Todt’s limp wristed and overly pragmatic rule.

For F1 to remain credible and unimpeachable – particularly in this age of Netflix inspired fake or alternate reality (incidentally scoffed at by many of Drive to Survive’s stars themselves, World Champion Max Verstappen dissenter in chief) – the importance of an independent, no BS, governing body is essential.

If it means stepping on some F1 people’s toes, in those comfy $1000 loafers, then once again, so be it. That’s what Ben Sulayem was hired to do as President of the FIA, and that is to make it a better place than it has been.

Finally, keep in mind that they are the FIA, the final authority on the sport’s rulemaking and administration, exactly how it should be because F1 is a sport first and foremost, a business secondarily, and that order can never be swapped.