F1’s governing body the FIA has responded to claims by former president Jean Todt that Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s complaints about a large financial hole at the organisation were exaggerated.
Ben Sulayem succeeded former Ferrari team principal Todt as the head of the FIA at the end of 2021, with Ben Sulayem claiming the governing body was in a challenging financial situation upon his arrival.
Todt hit back in an interview with French publication L’Equipe this week, insisting the FIA was in a secure financial state at the time of his departure.
FIA intervene in war of words
He said: “When I left, there must have been more than €250 million in reserve.
“I will be clear. Each year, the accounts have been largely profitable, except the last two years, marked by the COVID-19 crisis, which could have taken away the Federation.
“When I arrived in 2009, there were barely €40m, although the FIA had just ceded the commercial rights to F1 for a hundred years a few years earlier.
“I don’t call it a deficit. When I left, the budget had been multiplied by almost three, with many new competitions and sources of income, such as Formula E, the World Endurance Championship, or the Rally Raid Championship.”
According to Autosport, the FIA’s audited accounts show the FIA’s operating loss “amounted to €12.8 million in 2019, €22.1m in 2020 and €24m in 2021” in the three years before Todt’s exit with Ben Sulayem reducing the figure to €7.7m in 2022. A loss of €3m has been forecasted for 2023.
An FIA spokesman is quoted by the same source as saying: “As the FIA president outlined during the annual general assemblies week in Baku, the FIA has been transparent in revealing that soon after the new presidential team took office, the financial state that was discovered was unsatisfactory and unsustainable.
“The federation was incurring significant losses.
“The senior leadership’s mission is to sustain the FIA, and while we are not for profit, we do need to at least have balanced books and ideally create a surplus to strengthen equity for unforeseen events and to invest in research and development in the areas of safety, technology, and regulation across sport and mobility and to meet our primary purpose of supporting our member clubs.
“We will be releasing figures for 2021-22 in the coming weeks and 2023 figures in mid-June 2024 for the extraordinary general assembly.”
PlanetF1.com has approached the FIA for comment.