Ecclestone defends embattled FIA president
"He just does things differently than they were done before"
Bernie Ecclestone has chimed in with support for the embattled president of Formula 1’s governing body.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who became head of the FIA just prior to the 2022 season, believes he is being "attacked" by unnamed members of the F1 circus.
He implies that Liberty Media, the commercial owner of F1, is positioning to go it alone without the FIA’s regulatory involvement.
"Do they really think big manufacturers would make their own championship that doesn’t have a regulator?" Ben Sulayem told motorsport-magazin.com. "Do they want to be another WWF?
"No, it’s about having clear rules. We can have a show, but with government - a show with rules."
Ben Sulayem has faced accusations of sexism and bullying, and he is also at the centre of a new storm involving the aborted investigation into Toto and Susie Wolff.
But Ecclestone, who headed F1’s commercial rights holder prior to the Liberty era, defended the current FIA president.
"He just does things differently than they were done before," the 93-year-old told the German magazine Sport Bild. "He also does things differently than I would do them.
"But in my eyes, he is a straightforward man who tries to do the best for the sport. His bad reputation comes from people not understanding him," Ecclestone added.
"He’s just learning that the people who lead a team in this sport are different to what he thought they were."
For his part, meanwhile, Ben Sulayem insists he can handle the heat of the kitchen.
"We need to understand who I represent," he said. "And we are not a service provider. I represent the head of the house.
"But, like you said, friction is sometimes healthy to bring out the best. It’s like with your body," the FIA boss added. "If you wake up in the morning with pain, then at least you know that something is wrong."
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