FIA president now a Trump-like character – boss

Mon, 6 February 2023, 07:00

Feb.6 (GMM) The president of F1’s governing body has become a Donald Trump or Elon Musk-like character.

That is the view of one unnamed Formula 1 boss, as speculation of a growing rift between Mohammed Ben Sulayem and the team principals grows.

The FIA boss was even threatened with legal consequences by F1 owner Liberty Media recently over the prospective $20 billion sale of the sport’s rights to Saudi Arabia.

Even the F1 drivers are becoming outspoken on their new ban against making political gestures or speech in the context of a race weekend.

“Personally, I don’t really like talking about political topics,” said world champion Max Verstappen. “First of all you have to make sure you know all the facts.

“But I don’t think we should be banned from expressing our opinion. Some will speak more, some less, but it was not necessary to ban it,” he insisted.

It has even been rumoured that Sebastian Vettel lost his seat at Aston Martin, and in effect his place in Formula 1, over his political stances.

“I hope the others continue to have the courage to stand up for their opinions,” the quadruple world champion told TZ newspaper when asked about Ben Sulayem’s ban.

When asked what would have happened if he had stayed on the grid in 2023, the German smiled: “There might have been a little bit of trouble.

“But I do think it’s absolutely important to take a stance on some issues, as we’ve seen more and more in recent years.

“I’m no longer there, so of course I can say a lot more now.”

In reality, however, the situation between Ben Sulayem, the teams and F1 is a much thornier topic – and a rumoured big push to see him removed from office may now be in play.

When asked by Sport Bild, neither the FIA as a body or Ben Sulayem would comment on the rumoured dispute.

But one unnamed team boss told the German magazine: “You never know when something will happen now, and what the extent of it will be.

“But basically nothing surprises us anymore,” he added. “He’s like Donald Trump or Elon Musk – in an important position, but uncontrollable.”

And with Formula 1 thriving in popularity, there are concerns about that.

“Where the president used to only cause irritation, now he causes damage,” the unnamed boss concluded.

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