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Russell: We want total transparency on Ben Sulayem allegations

Russell: We want total transparency on Ben Sulayem allegations

Russell: We want total transparency on Ben Sulayem allegations

Mercedes driver George Russell has called for transparency following a report alleging that the president of Formula 1’s governing body intervened to overturn a penalty last season.

Russell finished fourth behind Fernando Alonso in last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix but was briefly upgraded to third when Alonso was given a 10-second penalty because Aston Martin’s pit crew touched the car with a jack while serving an earlier penalty. That ruling was later overturned.

The BBC reported this week that FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem allegedly intervened to have the Alonso penalty overturned. The FIA said Tuesday that its compliance officer has received two complaints “detailing potential allegations involving certain members of its governing body” in seeming reference to whistleblower claims against Ben Sulayem.

F1 is racing in Saudi Arabia again this week.

“We want to see all of the facts and just have total transparency, really. We want a fair and level playing field for us to showcase what we can do,” said Russell, who is also a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, which represents F1 drivers in dealings with the FIA and other organizations.

“We were surprised a year ago when the result got overturned,” Russell said. “The legal team, Mercedes thought they did a great job of presenting our case and initially winning the case and then losing it thereafter. So we just want to see transparency and have that opportunity to race on a level, fair playing field.”

No issues if Max Verstappen joins Mercedes

Russell also said it would be “exciting” if three-time F1 Champion Max Verstappen joined Mercedes as his teammate for 2025 when Lewis Hamilton leaves for Ferrari.

Verstappen’s current team, Red Bull, is in turmoil over the role of team principal Christian Horner, who remains in charge after the team’s parent company last week dismissed a complaint of alleged misconduct by Horner toward a team employee. He has denied wrongdoing, but Verstappen’s father, Jos, has criticized Horner’s remaining with the team.

“I think any team wants to have the best driver lineup possible, and right now Max is the best driver on the grid, so if any team had a chance to sign Max, they would 100% be taking it,” Russell said.

“So I think the question is more on the other side, on his side and on Red Bull’s side. Obviously there’s so much going on there. We don’t know what truly is going on behind closed doors, and ultimately it’s none of our business right now. I guess it would be exciting,” he added.

Hamilton said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Verstappen move to Mercedes.

“I know and I am sure Max is on the list,” the seven-time champion said. “I wouldn’t say I am surprised that he is being considered. He is a great driver.”

Verstappen won the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix last week and favored to retain his title. (The Associated Press)