Chairman Mohammed Ben Sulayem of the international motorsport federation FIA has handed over the day-to-day management of Formula 1. It now comes to the Greek Nikolas Tombazis, who is already director of the so-called ‘single seaters’ within the FIA. A spokesman for the association confirmed that Ben Sulayem has sent a letter to all ten Formula 1 teams announcing his withdrawal.
Ben Sulayem speaks out
The decision comes amid a controversy between the FIA and Liberty Media, the owners of Formula 1. Ben Sulayem recently spoke out about the financial value of the premier class, much to Liberty Media’s dismay. He responded via Twitter to a takeover bid from Saudi Arabia amounting to 20 billion dollars. “Any potential buyer is advised to use common sense, to think of the public interest of motorsport and to come up with a clear, sustainable plan, not just a bag of cash,” said Ben Sulayem. That was against the sore leg of the owners, who pointed to a deal from 2000 in which the FIA agreed to cede commercial rights to Formula 1. The union would now only deal with sporting regulations.
A spokesman for the FIA emphasized that it is a planned action by the chairman. Ben Sulayem was elected top boss of the FIA in 2021, but had already indicated in a manifesto that he wanted to restructure the FIA’s Formula 1 activities. “This step back had been planned since the beginning of his presidency,” said the spokesperson.
In the meantime, Red Bull Racing has completed a shakedown with the RB19 at the Silverstone circuit. Red Bull has kept this first day of filming with the 2023 car completely under wraps, but showed a short clip on social media at the end of the day. It is confirmation that the new battle weapon of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez is ready for the winter test in Bahrain. The first free bets placed on Max Verstappen to win the 2023 season are already out.