Internal power struggles, public disputes, questionable punishments, senior staff on vacation – things are going haywire at world sports body FIA.
The main character of the failure is Mohammed ben Sulayem (60).
The president of the FIA played down the negative figures, especially when it came to the most explosive issue of the season: Red Bull exceeded the budget limit. It could be heard in the paddock that the team of world champion Max Verstappen (25) tried to arrange several appointments, but ben Sulayem could not be found. Claims that the former race car driver from the Emirates, who has been in office since the beginning of the year, has already had to endure several times.
Ben Sulayem is said to place great emphasis on sleep. He makes an appointment in the afternoon. At the Austrian race in mid-July, he had a meeting with the team bosses postponed until eleven o’clock, despite their suggestion of a ten o’clock start. Results: Because the meeting took a long time and training started at twelve o’clock, some bosses missed parts of their race team’s division.
The second allegation against ben Sulayem: Instead of addressing the game’s problems (eg a very complicated set of rules) and pulling strings behind the scenes, he seeks publicity. The team boss tells SPORT BILD: “He doesn’t look at the rules, he looks at where the cameras are.”
During a minute’s silence for the Queen († 96), she stood in protest next to British drivers George Russell (24) and Lewis Hamilton (37) – with whom she was already upset because she forbade drivers to wear jewelry in the cockpit .
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Ben Sulayem’s staff decisions have not yet been made. After former race director Michael Masi (44) left after the controversial 2021 final that made Verstappen world champion, he was replaced by German Niels Wittich (50) and Portuguese Eduardo Freitas (61). The latter is now deprecated after several times causing discontent among the team.
A negative highlight was the Japanese Grand Prix, where Alpha Tauris Pierre Gasly (26) almost crashed into a rescue tractor that was sent onto the track too early. When the Frenchman, who could have died in the crash, complained loudly to the race organizers, Freitas simply replied that he “shouldn’t have done that”. True to the motto: You survived.
Wittich has also come under fire recently. Haas team boss Günther Steiner said last weekend at the Mexican race: “It’s sad when the race director doesn’t know the rules.” Background: After the Austin race a week earlier, the German said that Haas had one hour to lodge a protest against the car of Fernando Alonso (41). Actually, it’s only 30 minutes. Because the appeal was delayed, Alonso took his seventh place, and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen (30) was only ninth instead of eighth. Difference of two championship points.
In the paddock, the tenor is clear: Wittich is still in office because there is no better alternative and you would lose face if you changed the race director again.
The truth is: Fia makes so many mistakes, the situation continues to be FIAsko. A situation that causes dissatisfaction with Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali (57) and the team. Plot: Ben Sulayem needs to control his business.