F1 bosses ‘could sack FIA chief Mohammed ben Sulayem’ amid civil war
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Mohammed ben Sulayem could be ousted as FIA president with a British successor already lined up as a replacement, according to German site Sport1. They claim F1 owners Liberty Media want to get to rid of Ben Sulayem amid an ongoing civil war between F1 and the FIA.
Reports suggest former Motorsport UK chairman and Prodrive chief David Richards could take the post. Richards has strong knowledge of F1 from his roles as a team boss at Benetton and British American Racing (BAR).
Sport1 claims he is already in the starting blocks to take over but warns Liberty must first prove Ben Sulayem’s misconduct. It comes amid rising tensions between the FIA and Ben Sulayem on one side and F1 bosses on the other.
Both sides collided over a possible deal to bring Andretti-Cadillac onto the grid ahead of the new regulations changes in 2026. However, things have worsened with both sides disagreeing in remarks over a possible commercial rights sale with Saudi Arabia.
Ben Sulayem took a dig at F1 by claiming a £16billion ($20b) price tag put on the sport was “inflated”. Liberty Media then hit back, stressing that Ben Sulayem’s comments were “unacceptable” and that the FIA could be liable for damages.
Liberty bosses even wrote a letter to Ben Sulayem raising their concerns over the remarks. It read: “Any individual or organisation commenting on the value of a listed entity or its subsidiaries, especially claiming or implying possession of inside knowledge while doing so, risks causing substantial damage to the shareholders and investors of that entity, not to mention potential exposure to serious regulatory consequences.
“To the degree that these comments damage the value of Liberty Media Corporation, the FIA may be liable as a result.”
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F1 bosses also responded that Liberty had the “exclusive right” to use the sport’s “commercial rights”. This was quickly rebuffed by Ben Sulayem who stressed F1 was simply on loan to Liberty. He responded: “The championship is ours. We have only rented it out.
“So far there are only rumours about a possible sale. But the FIA should have a say and be able to offer advice.” Ben Sulayem was involved in a sexism row over the weekend after posts from over 20 years ago surfaced online.
In 2001, he apparently posted online that he did not like women who think they were “smarter than men” as they are “not in truth”. However, the FIA passionately defended Ben Sulayem’s remarks after another crisis.
They said: “The remarks in this archived website from 2001 do not reflect the FIA president’s beliefs. He has a strong record on promoting women and equality in sport, which he is happy to be judged on. It was a central part of his manifesto and actions taken this year and the many years he served as FIA vice president for sport prove this.”
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