FIA president makes clear demand on long-standing issue affecting racing

Oliver Harden
The FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Christian Horner.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner in Abu Dhabi.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has stressed the need to make karting more affordable to help identify the next generation of F1 drivers.

Motor racing is a notoriously expensive industry, with young hopefuls requiring significant financial backing to stand a chance of making it to Formula 1.

Many of the drivers racing in F1 today, including reigning three-time World Champion Max Verstappen and seven-time title winner Lewis Hamilton, started off in kart racing, climbing the ladder to emerge as legends of the sport.

FIA president keen to reduce karting costs

Ben Sulayem is determined to lower the costs of karting to ease the financial burden, targeting simplified technology and standardised rules across all disciplines of the entry-level category.

According to, he said: “Who can afford to pay  €275,000 [per season] for their 10-year-old child? That is not possible.

“Karting is so expensive. We therefore want to standardise the requirements and then reduce the costs. After all, we want to see motorsport grow. recommends

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“All the drivers in Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 come from karting. And that’s where we need to start.”

Ben Sulayem bemoaned the fact that motor racing is such a complex venture compared to football, reiterating his desire to achieve greater simplicity.

“It’s such a simple sport,” he said of football. “There are simple rules with eleven players on each side and one ball. But we have so many different rules. I want to change that.”

The president revealed that he is “gradually seeing light at the end of the tunnel” in his pursuit of change.

Ben Sulayem’s comments come just weeks after a war of words with his predecessor Jean Todt, who took exception to Ben Sulayem’s claims that he inherited a dire financial situation at the FIA after assuming office in December 2021.

The 62-year-old claimed the FIA has been “in the red for 40 years” with operating costs as high as €30million per year before he managed to reduce the figure to “just under €8m last year.”

Ben Sulayem admitted that the governing body did not find it easy to get it down to that number, stating: “You can’t just go and cut everything. That’s not healthy.

“I always say: if you let someone go to the fifth floor, it takes time. But then you can’t say jump down again. Because that inevitably hurts. So the way back has to be done step by step.”

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