Ben Sulayem: Proud of how the FIA tackled challenges we faced

ben sulayem fia f1

A year after taking office, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem reflected on the year past and is proud of how Formula 1’s governing body transitioned from the Jean Todt rule to where it is today under the Emirati’s leadership.

The organisation’s first Arab President inherited a cauldron of problems in the aftermath of the 2021 Abu Dhabi saga which happened on the eve of his acceptance speech and lingered throughout the year as the FIA tweaked the F1 Race Direction and Stewarding roles, and the sport, of course, threw up issues upon issues to deal with.

From body jewelry to budget cap busts coupled to, at times, weird Grand Prix RD decision that backfired – Ben Sulayem’sd and his new team have had their plates full; not to mention all the other non-F1 and motorsport-related matters.

In a press release the FIA reported that the World Motor Sport Council convened for the final time in 2022 at the Savoia Regency Hotel in Bologna as part of the FIA Annual General Assembly Week.

The meeting was hosted by FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem with FIA Deputy President for Sport Robert Reid, and WMSC members joining in person and via video conference.

The FIA President began the meeting by thanking the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI) and its President, Angelo Sticchi Damiani, for hosting the week’s events.

In his opening address, the President provided an overview of the significant milestones achieved in 2022. He also acknowledged that the meeting in Bologna would be the last appearance of Mattia Binotto on the World Motor Sport Council and thanked him for his contribution as the F1 Commission’s Delegate.

Ben Sulayem: Our objective to create a truly global, financially sustainable, and Member-led FIA is well underway

(L to R): Jean Todt (FRA) FIA President, Mohammed Bin Sulayem (UAE) and Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) CEO Formula One Group (FOM).Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday 3 November 2012.

Almost a year ago, we, as a team, were chosen in order to lead the FIA into a new era. Altogether, we worked hard in order to implement the goals that we presented in the manifesto,” stated Ben Sulayem.

“As 2022 draws to a close, I am proud of how the WMSC has tackled the challenges we faced. We had to deal with the 2021 Abu Dhabi Report and the Ukrainian crisis during the first three months of my mandate. We worked hard to restructure the FIA, including the appointment of our first CEO, and we worked in a transparent way in order to significantly reduce our operating deficit.

“We launched a number of initiatives to empower the regions with the objective of putting Clubs at the heart of our projects. As you know, doubling participation is a goal that is dear to me, and we are making our sport more accessible, affordable and diverse in order to achieve this. As part of that objective, we are launching our affordable Cross Car initiative from 2023.

“With the support of Council Members, we approved the F1 Power Unit Regulations for 2026 – a major technical landmark for the sport which led to entry of Audi in to Formula 1. We also completed our first successful year of Financial Regulations in F1 and the first phase of our Race Direction Development Programme.

“We have also launched the Engineering Scholarship, made great strides in EDI and we are forging ahead with our mission to address online abuse.

“This past year has been one of intense activity and I would like to thank Council Members for their commitment and invaluable cooperation throughout the year. Our objective to create a truly global, financially sustainable, and Member-led FIA is well underway.”

The WMSC meeting on Wednesday, 7 December, was preceded by the now-traditional World Council strategy working meeting on Tuesday, 6 December.

FIA Formula 1 World Championship

Following the confirmation that the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix will not take place, the calendar is updated as follows:

2023 F1 calendar

The six events in 2023 that will include Sprint sessions were confirmed today as follows:

  • FIA Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Baku City Circuit) 28-30 April
  • FIA Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix (Red Bull Ring) 30 June-2 July
  • FIA Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix (Spa-Francorchamps) 28-30 July
  • FIA Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix (Losail International Circuit) 06-08 October
  • FIA Formula 1 United States Grand Prix (Circuit of the Americas) 20-22 October
  • FIA Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix (Autódromo José Carlos Pace) 3-5 November

Ben Sulayem, added: “Following strong collaboration between the FIA and FOM, and the approval of the World Motor Sport Council, we are pleased to reveal the six events for Sprints for the 2023 season. We look forward to this exciting addition to the calendar.”

Minor changes to the 2023 Technical Regulations were approved.

A significant increase in the required strength of Roll Hoops was approved for 2024 as part of the continual commitment to improving safety standards in the sport. These updates mean that test loads are applied more horizontally to require better fixing of the roll hoop to the chassis structure.

The World Council also approved several updates and clarifications to the 2023 and 2024 Financial Regulations, including an increase of the forfeit allowance amount for each Sprint session from $150k to $300k from 2023 onwards, and the elimination of any subsequent adjustment for accident damage sustained during the Sprint sessions.

The Council Members received an update regarding the ongoing projects discussed at the most recent Formula 1 Commission meeting, a summary of which can be found here.

The FIA continues to evolve the COVID-19 protocol in line with the changes in the status of the global pandemic. Accordingly, it is proposed to relax the COVID-19 protocol for Formula 1 2023 season.

In summary, the key changes to the protocol are: Attendees that are not ‘fit to attend’ (i.e. those having COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed COVID-19 infection) will not be authorized to enter ‘high density’ areas. No requirement for attendees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter high-density areas. The FIA will no longer organize on-site testing facilities but will inform stakeholders about test facilities available locally to venues.