‘Underfunded’ FIA take shot at ‘bragging’ F1 teams in call for stronger deal

Thomas Maher
Williams' Alex Albon in action during the Qatar Grand Prix.

Williams' Alex Albon in action during the Qatar Grand Prix.

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem says more solutions to control track limits are possible, but the governing body needs more resources.

Track limits came up as a topic once again during the Qatar Grand Prix, with several drivers picking up multiple penalties for exceeding the white lines and affecting their final results.

While not quite as dramatic as the penalty-marred Austrian Grand Prix, which had the FIA stewards poring over every white line breach during the race to figure out the penalties, it’s an issue that the FIA president Ben Sulayem would like to improve and refine in the future.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem ‘won’t hide’ FIA need more resources

Speaking at the Qatar GP, Ben Sulayem said finding a solution to the recurring problem of track limits – which is worse at some circuits than others, depending on their layout – is imperative.

Solutions that involve potentially damaging the cars, or harming the drivers, are not desired, while gravel traps are also unwanted due to the potential for cars to dig in and get stuck, or flip over.

Simple monitoring of the white lines has been the preferred option in recent years, but has led to races at some circuits where the drivers easily exceed the limits and it leads to an excessive amount of penalties or investigations.

But Ben Sulayem says further improvements to control track limits breaches can be implemented as technology improves, but the FIA will need additional resources to implement them.

“The use of technology should be there,” he said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.

“It is being used in a lot of areas, but the FIA needs more resources to invest back into the sport.

“I’m not hiding here: we need more resources. I mean, it’s a $20 billion operation here and we cannot run it on a shoestring.”

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With F1’s popularity booming, and the finances of the F1 teams also in strong shape as a result of the marked increase in audience and investment, Ben Sulayem believes a better deal between the FIA and Liberty Media needs to be struck in order to improve the governing body’s finances.

“Our agreement has to be better,” he said.

“You have to remember one thing: we own the championship. I represent the landlord, and we lease it. Our mission is different to Liberty but we are in the same boat.

We should not be running this big responsibility with a shoestring. We are transparent.

“[We tell people] this is what it costs. People are bragging about how much each F1 team is worth, but the FIA should be free and have the resources to run it in the best way.

“Every time we are better, we make the teams better and we make the sport better.”

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