FIA president Ben Sulayem under further scrutiny over alleged Las Vegas GP request

Thomas Maher
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, pictured 2023.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been cleared of wrongdoing over alleged interference into the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Following on from a report FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem allegedly tried to intervene over a race penalty, the Emirati has found himself at the heart of a further furore.

On Monday, the BBC reported an FIA whistleblower claimed Ben Sulayem allegedly intervened to have a penalty given to Fernando Alonso during the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and now a further allegation has been made against the FIA President.

Did Mohammed Ben Sulayem try to interfere in Las Vegas GP homologation?

According to a report by the BBC, a whistleblower has also claimed that they were told ‘on behest of the FIA President’ to not homologate the Las Vegas street circuit to FIA Grade 1 status – the licence status required by every Grand Prix track to be eligible to hold an F1 Grand Prix.

The 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix was the first race to be fully put together by rights holder Liberty Media, with the US organisation buying the land, negotiating a deal, and promoting its own self-contained event that saw the F1 cars using the famous Las Vegas strip for the night race.

The BBC claims to have seen a report by FIA compliance officer Paolo Basarri submitted to the FIA’s ethics committee that includes the details from the whistleblowers of the details of the two incidents.

The whistleblower claims they were contacted by their manager with an instruction from Ben Sulayem to find issues with the new circuit so it couldn’t be declared fit for use – no issues were found to prevent the circuit being issued its Grade 1 status.

Just seven minutes into the first practice session, a loose water valve cover tore into the underside of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, resulting in a disastrous first day on the schedule.

The accusation is at odds with the claims of the president that he supported the homologation of the circuit and, in an interview with GP Racing, Ben Sulayem said the relationship between the FIA and FOM is more at ease than it had been when he first took the presidency in late 2021.

“No. FOM has its points,” he said, when asked if the two parties need to always be in agreement.

F1 declined to comment when approached by, while the FIA has not yet responded to a request for comment. recommends

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Mohammed Ben Sulayem also facing allegation over race penalty request

The report on Ben Sulayem follows an earlier story that the President called the FIA’s vice-president for sport for the Middle East and North Africa region Sheiki Abdullah bin Hamad ben Isa Al Khalifa to tell him that Fernando Alonso’s penalty for having his mechanics touch his car before a previous five-second penalty had been served should be overruled.

The Spaniard was given the 10-second penalty while serving the five-second penalty, due to the rear jack being placed under the car – Alonso being adjudged to have incorrectly served the initial penalty.

This was later overruled, with the stewards explaining following an Aston Martin right of review that the jack touching the car didn’t represent the car being worked on.

Neither Ben Sulayem nor the FIA have issued comment on this allegation, with the BBC claiming several sources have confirmed the validity of the complaint and that the FIA is expected to take several weeks to issue a report.


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