‘Not exciting’ F1 has triggered wave of scandals – Alonso

Thu, 7 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.7 (GMM) Leading Formula 1 figures are watching on in horror as their sport becomes engulfed in scandal upon scandal.

The Christian Horner scandal is now well-known and raging out of control, risking tearing Red Bull apart from the inside. But also in trouble is controversial FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

The Paris-based federation is now investigating allegations that he tampered with a stewards penalty involving Fernando Alonso after last year’s Saudi Arabian GP, and also tried to block homologation of the Las Vegas circuit.

“There is a lot of talk off the track because the activity on the track is not exciting,” Alonso told AS newspaper when asked about the scandals at Jeddah.

“One car has won for about the last 72 races, three years of domination. And when that happens in this sport, there is always a lot of activity off the track.”

As for the investigation into his penalty a year ago, the Spaniard insisted: “It’s not a problem for us. It’s an FIA investigation that does not affect Aston Martin and we will find out the result like everyone else.

“We are happy with the evidence we saw about it last year.”

George Russell, however, isn’t so sure, as Mercedes was at the forefront of pushing for the Alonso penalty that was then overturned.

“We were surprised a year ago when the result got overturned,” he said, “as the legal team at Mercedes thought they did a great job of presenting our case and initially winning the case and then losing it thereafter.

“We just want to see transparency and have the opportunity to race on a fair playing field,” the Mercedes driver added.

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko, meanwhile, has been conspicuously circumspect about the Horner affair, but when asked about the new FIA president scandal, he told Krone newspaper: “This is not a positive development.”

F1’s Ben Sulayem-led governing body, however, hit back at the leaks to the media through a spokesman, who told AP: “It is unfortunate and a source of great concern that the matter has been disclosed to the media without any prior authorisation and that certain elements of the report were inaccurately reported.”

It is clear, however, that it’s part of a wider dispute between the Liberty Media-owned Formula 1 commercial rights holder, and Ben Sulayem’s FIA.

“The season has started with some sort of big spring clean,” former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher told Sky Deutschland. “Everything that doesn’t fit neatly in the corners has to go.

“And that can happen to him (Ben Sulayem) now, there’s no question about it,” the German added. “If he really did that, the question will not be ‘when’ how ‘how quickly’. You’re not allowed to influence the decisions of the stewards. Full stop.”

Schumacher added: “The thing about Las Vegas is of course a rumour. But we already know that he and FOM don’t exactly have the best relationship – especially the episode about budgets and what Formula 1 should be worth.

“There’s been a lot of tension since then,” the former F1 race winner explained. “He was already close to losing his job already.”

Finally, Lewis Hamilton said of the off-track commotion in F1 at present: “As someone who loves the sport, I hate to see what’s going on now. It definitely doesn’t look good from the outside.”

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