Newly-appointed Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur believes all the commotion surrounding FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem will recede once the 2023 Formula 1 cars hit the track.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has been in the spotlight and generating headlines in the past few weeks for the wrong reasons after his comments on social media regarding the price of Formula 1 not to mention the open confrontation between him and all other F1 stakeholders regarding the application of Andretti-Cadillac to enter the sport.
It all began with a report in Bloomberg claiming Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) had offered Liberty Media a sum of $20-Billion to buy F1 from them, and despite the deal not going through, the Saudis seem to be still interested.
Following that, Ben Sulayem tweeted an elaborate three-part tweet warning that the reported price tag of F1 is inflated warning from its repercussions on the sport as a whole.
As the custodians of motorsport, the FIA, as a non-profit organisation, is cautious about alleged inflated price tags of $20bn being put on F1. (1/3)
— Mohammed Ben Sulayem (@Ben_Sulayem) January 23, 2023
Formula 1 and Liberty Media took offence at Ben Sulayem’s statement, and considered it as meddling in the commercial side of F1, something he and the FIA are not allowed to do under the lease agreement signed between former F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone and former FIA president Max Mosely, by which the governing body leased the commercial rights of the sport to F1’s holding company over 100 years against a sum of $313-Million.
Formula 1’s legal team sent a strong-worded letter to the FIA warning Ben Sulayem from interfering in F1’s commercial aspects, while threatening that he and the FIA will be liable should his statements have any detrimental effect on the business after what they labeled as “unacceptable remarks” from the Emirati.
The ongoing drama…
Since then, further reports have surfaced, revealing the dismay of a House of Lords peer from the lack of response from Ben Sulayem regarding a letter the former sent objecting to holding F1 races in places like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Also another report revealed a letter from the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) to Ben Sulayem urging him to reverse the FIA’s decision not to allow F1 drivers express political opinions.
The cherry on top of the cake, however, was a report in The Times, where an old archived website for Ben Sulayem was dug out, with statements from the 61-year-old on it that were labeled as “sexist”, the FIA issuing a statement immediately defending its President.
However, Fred Vasseur, the new Ferrari Team Principal, has downplayed all the drama around Ben Sulayem, claiming all will go away once the new F1 season sets off.
Speaking to the media, Vasseur said: “I’m really convinced that as soon as we will put the cars on track, this will disappear a little bit off the screen.
“For sure we’ll have discussions but, as always, I hope that we’ll be able to stay focused on the sporting side,” the Frenchman added.
Notably though, Ben Sulayem has not posted anything on social media, nor was there any statements from him or the FIA regarding the ongoing drama.