FIA president reignites F1 power struggle: ‘I am the head of the house’

Sam Cooper
Stefano Domenicali, Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Greg Maffei

Mohammed Ben Sulayem has frequently clashed with F1's owners Liberty Media.

FIA president Mohamed Ben Sulayem has again tried to establish who is in control of Formula 1, insisting that he is “the head of the house.”

Formula 1 power is split between two parties – the governing body in the FIA and the commercial arm in FOM, owned by Liberty Media since 2017.

But since Ben Sulayem‘s election as president in December 2021, there has been a continued attempt by the FIA to seize more control over its prized asset.

FIA president shares thoughts on F1 ‘friction’

The FIA may represent a number of motorsport disciplines but the Formula 1 World Championship is by far the biggest amongst them.

Therefore, as the sport expands, the governing body has attempted to keep some ownership of it.

This time last year, Ben Sulayem upset FOM owners Liberty Media when he suggested a Saudi Arabian-backed bid for the commercial rights was inflated and has again rubbed up the FOM the wrong way with his insistence to add more teams to the grid.

Speaking recently, Ben Sulayem suggested he wants “clarity and fairness” but went on to state he felt like the “head of the house.”

“I’m just asking for clarity and fairness,” he told Motorsport Magazin. “I am not involved in the stock price or ticket sales. We just need fairness here, that’s my mission.

“We define clarity between ourselves and the FOM, Liberty. That’s good. We need to understand who I represent. I represent the head of the house. We are not a service provider! No, we are not. I keep saying that and I believe it too.

“But friction is sometimes healthy to bring out the best. It’s like with your body: if you wake up in the morning with pain, then at least you know that something is wrong.”

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Ben Sulayem also said that he wants the “best for the sport” but said his duty was to the FIA.

“We want the best for the sport. I’ll tell you one thing, I’ll say it very humbly and clearly: you won’t wake up tomorrow and the FIA ​​is no longer there. For others it is different.

“Liberty also has the right to sell the lease to another company. Tomorrow it could no longer be with them, but with someone else. Then I have to get along with them. That is the difference between us.

“I respect them, they are here for profit. That’s why they bought it. Why else would they buy the lease? They are smart people and I support them.

“But at the same time I was elected by the members of the FIA ​​to do the best for the FIA. I don’t get paid, I don’t complain about it, I already knew that.

“We are a non-profit association. What we get doesn’t go to shareholders or directors. Investments are being made again in equipment and training to develop better stewards and race directors.”

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