FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has said he “knows who is attacking me” and hinted that he believes someone is leaking things about him.
2023 was not a strong year for the FIA president with him starting it by openly criticising the “inflated” value of F1, landing him a letter from FOM, and ending it by upsetting Mercedes and the Wolffs following an ‘investigation’ into a tenuously suggested leaking of information.
But the Emirati insists he is in the innocent part and has hinted that there are people out to get him.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem hits back at those ‘attacking’ him
Ben Sulayem was forced to take a step back from F1 proceedings in early 2023 but became more of a presence as the year went on.
Late in 2023, he spoke to the Press Association to hit back at claims he was a sexist, raised due to quotes attributed to him on an old version of his personal website.
Now he has taken aim at those who he believes are “attacking” him.
“They are media representatives, they know how it works,” he told Motosport Magazin. “People don’t want to wake up and read: The sky is blue, the grass is green, the birds are singing.
“At the end of the day, I know who is attacking me. And they think I don’t know.
“Do you really think I would be in this position if I had stupid people around me? Of course, my team is very smart.
“The paddock is a very small circle, everyone knows everyone. You know who leaked something or invented something about me. I know it. And what do I do? I smile about it. I know who’s behind it and then I smile at them.
“Is it counterproductive? No. Is it good for the business? No.”
Ben Sulayem also went on to deny there was any truth behind rumours that FOM was considering splitting away from the FIA.
“People who talk about it don’t even know what they’re talking about. Do they really believe that big manufacturers would make their own mastery that does not have a regulator?
“Do they really think they would invest? Do you want to be another WWE? You already know beforehand who wins. Then someone invests and suddenly the rules are changed? No! It’s about having clear rules beforehand. Then you can invest. This is a show. Not here.
“Here we have a show, but with government, a show with rules. And here you know that we monitor it properly and are fair. The rest is up to you, your team and your driver.”
Ben Sulayem continued and suggested that unlike everyone else involved in F1, they are there for the sport.
“Do you know what is good for business? Honesty. You sit together, you discuss, you make a handshake, you sign a contract. We know what our responsibility and task is and vice versa. That’s the best way.
“Clarity is very important. I’m not against anyone’s business, that’s quite clear. There are people here to make money. Every product we have here, every sponsor, every partner: If he invests, there is something in return. Nobody does it for nothing.
“The FIA is different. We are not profitable. But we also have to support our finances. We have to give more value to the people who work for us.”