‘Attacked’ FIA president ‘went through hell’ in backlash to Andretti F1 bid

Sam Cooper
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem talks to Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

The FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has big plans for F1's future.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has criticised his detractors for attacking him as he “went through hell” following his son’s death.

Saif Ben Sulayem lost his life earlier this year in a road accident in Dubai, a few weeks after his father had taken a step back from F1 following ill-advised comments about its value.

Now, Ben Sulayem again finds himself on the opposite side of the table from FOM, this time trying to argue that Andretti deserves a spot on the grid.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem ‘went through hell’ after son’s death

Ben Sulayem’s son died a few weeks after the FIA introduced an Expression of Interest process, designed to streamline a potential route into F1.

Andretti were the sole candidate to pass the process meaning the final hurdle is to agree terms with FOM, but that appears to be a far harder task than getting the FIA on side.

Ben Sulayem has criticised those he believes are against him, suggesting they attacked him at a moment when he was going through “hell.”

“I went through hell,” said Ben Sulayem, as per the Daily Mail. “They attacked me even when my son died. They abused me to try to break me, just because I opened [the] Expressions of Interest [process]. We have a contract that allows for 12 teams, don’t forget.”

Such has been the backlash that the president, who has been in power since the end of 2021, asked himself why he was getting so much “abuse.”

“I ask myself, ‘What did I do to get all this abuse?’ How can you refuse GM? For god’s sake, they are an OEM.

“I’m optimistic that they [Liberty] won’t say no. It is good for business. It is good for motorsport. And if there is another reliable, worthy team wanting admission I’ll open a new expressions of interest process.

“I was elected to look after the sport. I put nothing in my pocket. There are no shareholders. There is no board of directors to share profits. My mission is different from theirs.”

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Ben Sulayem also responded to another controversial choice the FIA recently made, increasing the maximum fine for drivers from €250k to €1 million.

For those who were against it, Ben Sulayem had a simple solution – “stick to the rules.”

“The old regulations dated to Jurassic Park,’ he said. “A million is not something we want to impose. To avoid it: just stick to the rules.”

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