FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has surrendered his hands-on role with Formula 1 by way of a letter to teams.
The Emirati former rally driver has not shied away from the limelight since becoming FIA president in December of 2021, but this had been taken to a new level during the winter break ahead of the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Ben Sulayem and Formula 1 have not exactly been seeing eye-to-eye on topics like potential new Formula 1 teams and a rumoured sale of the series, while the FIA has also ruffled the feathers of several drivers with a ban on showing or making political or religious statements at any FIA-sanctioned event without their prior permission.
But Formula 1 is no longer going to be dealing with Ben Sulayem as a first point of contact, with a letter which he has distributed confirming that he is relinquishing hands-on control.
Ben Sulayem’s election as FIA president had come with his promise that he would settle into a more stand-off role when it came to his Formula 1 involvement, which he claimed in the letter, is the reason for his decision as the management group to handle the hands-on duties is now in place.
The 61-year-old has shown a readiness to use social media as an outlet for his views, causing a bit of a ruckus recently when he described a rumoured $20 billion takeover of Formula 1 as an “inflated price tag being put on F1”.
He also used that platform to express his disappointment in the frosty reception from Formula 1 to General Motors’ interest in entering the sport alongside Andretti.
Ben Sulayem’s letter, sent to team bosses on Monday afternoon, reads, as per Sportsmail: “My stated objective was to be a non-executive president via the recruitment of a team of professional managers, which has now been largely completed.
“Therefore, going forward, your day-to-day contact for all matters on F1 will be with Nikolas (Tombazis, director of single-seater racing) and his team, while I will focus on strategic matters with my leadership team.”
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Sportsmail also cite a statement from the FIA which reads: “The president’s manifesto clearly set out this plan before he was elected – it pledged ‘the appointment of an FIA CEO to provide an integrated and aligned operation,’ as well as to ‘introduce a revised governance framework’ under ‘a leadership team focused on transparency, democracy, and growth.’
“These goals, as well as the announcement of the new structure of the single-seater department have been planned since the beginning of this presidency.
“The FIA president has a wide remit that covers the breadth of global motor sport and mobility, and now that the structural reorganisation in Formula One is complete this is a natural next step.”