F1 accusers lack ’guts’ to confront FIA president

"I am overwhelmed by the support of the FIA members"


24 April 2024 - 08:37
F1 accusers lack 'guts' (...)

Mohammed Ben Sulayem is charging ahead amid an obvious and escalating power struggle, denying that he necessarily needs the support of "the Formula 1 teams".

It’s well known that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff’s wife Susie has commenced defamation claims against the controversial FIA president, following comments Ben Sulayem made earlier this year.

But he’s also been accused of trying to block Liberty Media’s new blue-riband Las Vegas GP last year, and of interfering in stewards decisions at grands prix.

In reaction, the FIA has been publishing multiple letters of support from automobile clubs and other members of the Paris-based governing body in recent days and weeks.

"I am overwhelmed by the support of the FIA members," he now tells AFP news agency. "People need to understand that it is the members who put me where I am.

"It is not the media or the Formula 1 teams who are at the origin. I respect them, but I was not elected to care about their opinion or anyone’s opinion of me. I care about what was promised in my program.

"I wish the accusations against me were just accusations, but I have been convicted in the court of public opinion," Ben Sulayem added. "I have nothing to hide."

It’s telling that the main accusations against the 62-year-old former Middle Eastern rally driver have come from within the F1 community.

But Ben Sulayem revealed: "They haven’t had the guts to come and see me. Honestly, I can stand up straight, look you in the eye and tell you that I’m a sportsman and I play by the rules.

"I know who is behind all this, but I cannot say."

He denied that he is essentially at war not only with the F1 teams, but also the sport’s commercial rights holder Formula One Management, owned by Liberty Media.

"Very good," he insisted when asked about the relationship. "FOM is our partner. I have no problem. I just want to continue doing business with them."

Ben Sulayem insists, however, that he is trying to keep out of the parallel power struggle occurring at Red Bull, with Christian Horner at the centre.

"I sympathise with all stakeholders in this matter," he said. "But we are external actors in all of this. We cannot add fuel to the fire.

"I have confidence in the investigation that has been carried out, the other party has the right to appeal, but does this concern the FIA? I don’t think so."



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