Damon Hill: ‘Degrading FIA need to match Formula 1’s power and weight’

Jon Wilde
The FIA logo. February 2008.

The logo of the FIA displayed.

Damon Hill hopes the FIA’s decision to install a new CEO, Natalie Robyn, reverses what he sees as a “degrading” of the sport’s governing body.

The CEO role has been created at the FIA to complement that of the president, Mohammed ben Sulayem, with Robyn appointed due to her considerable experience in the automotive industry at companies including Volvo, Nissan and Daimler-Chrysler, although not in motorsport.

In the last 12 months, the FIA’s reputation has taken a hit largely due to the way in which the climax to the 2021 title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was managed, leading to race director Michael Masi being removed from his job.

There also appears to be something of a power struggle ongoing between the FIA and Formula 1, with bones of contention including plans to increase the number of sprint qualifying events and, more recently, the timing of the 2023 F1 calendar announcement.

Hill, the 1996 World Champion with Williams, feels the FIA’s position has been compromised and that given the authority’s importance to the sport, it needs to exert greater influence to ensure all objectives are fulfilled.

“I want to say our sport needs a strong FIA,” said Hill during the F1 Nation podcast, in relation to mention of Robyn’s appointment.

“I think there’s been a degrading of the FIA over time because I think when Bernie [Ecclestone] ran [F1], he basically didn’t want to have, and the teams didn’t want, too much interference.

“But it’s a sport, and it’s not a sport unless it has a strong FIA because they make the rules and their job is to apply the regulations that mean there is more chance of people succeeding and also that things that have gone wrong in the sport shouldn’t happen, and drivers get a fair chance.

“And it’s really important they are there and effective and can match the power and weight of Formula 1 and also of the teams and other influences because without them, it’s not a sport.

“They also implement safety and they do an amazing job on that and a lot of the stuff would never have got through if they hadn’t been strong enough and fought on safety grounds. And we’ve got lots of lives that have been saved because of what they have done.

“But as far as regulations go, I think we still need work there to make it still a fair and open sport.”

Read more: F1 2023 schedule – record-breaking 24 race calendar announced by the FIA