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FIA Sporting Director Steve Nielsen reportedly quits

FIA Sporting Director Steve Nielsen reportedly quits

FIA Sporting Director Steve Nielsen reportedly quits

The FIA announced Steve Nielsen as its Sporting Director as part of a major reshuffle of its Formula 1 operations back in February.

The FIA restructuring at the time was revealed along with an announcement from President Mohammed Ben Sulayem that he would be stepping back from day to day involvement in F1.

The Emirati’s decision came after several clashes with F1’s Commercial Rights Holder Liberty Media and Formula One Management (FOM) on several topics including the addition of an 11th team as Ben Sulayem supported the Andretti bid to join F1 with Cadillac, not to mention FIA President’s questioning of the sport’s value amid rumours that Saudi Arabia, through its Public Investment Fund (PIF), was interested in buying F1 and reportedly willing to pay up to $20-Billion for it.

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That prompted Liberty Media to send a strongly worded legal letter to the FIA warning Ben Sulayem had no right to interfere in the commercial side of F1, which is how they labelled his comments.

Nikolas Tombazis, a former Ferrari and F1 man, was appointed as Single-Seater Director with Nielsen reporting to him in the role of Sporting Director.

Nielsen himself, has previously held the same role with several F1 teams including Lotus, Tyrell, Benetton, Renault and Williams. He was also employed by F1 commercial rights holder in the same position back in 2017.

In his FIA role, Nielson was in charge of all F1 sporting matters, race control and remote operations center working closely with F1 Race Director Niels Wittich. He was also in charge of regulations’ development.

There was not formal announcement from the FIA, but reports have claimed that Nielsen was not happy with his role or with the direction of things within the F1 Governing Body, as he felt there was not genuine will to make change.

Nielson’s departure, it confirmed, will concluded a tumultuous year for the FIA, the organization recently in the spotlight over the Toto and Susie Wolff conflict of interest saga.

Earlier in December the FIA announced an investigation into a potential conflict of interest between a team boss and and FOM employee, the media identifying them as Wolff and his wife.

That caused a major backlash in the F1 community as all teams denied being the whistle blower the FIA concluding the investigation less than 48 hours later, revealing all was in order.