Zak Brown leads call for FIA ‘transparency’ but refuses to withdraw support

Sam Cooper
Zak Brown

Zak Brown refused to say he had lost faith in the under-fire FIA

The F1 team principals shied away from criticising the FIA after a disastrous week which saw them become the subject of a criminal court case and an investigation into their own president.

The sport’s governing body is in the spotlight after it was first reported president Mohammed Ben Sulayem was being investigated for alleged race interference and issues related to the Las Vegas GP but their week got worse when F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff confirmed she had filed a criminal court against the French body.

F1 bosses shy away from harsh FIA criticism

Wolff said on Thursday that she had filed a complaint against the FIA in French courts, where the governing body is based, and she criticised the lack of transparency following an investigation into her and husband Toto Wolff.

It came just a short while after Ben Sulayem was cleared for alleged interference at both the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and the Las Vegas race later that same year.

Following these events, a number of team principals were asked if they still had faith in the FIA but none were willing to criticise the sport’s governing body too harshly.

“About all the items that have come to light here in recent times, they are very serious situations,” McLaren CEO Zak Brown said. “We’re living in 2024, not 1984, which means transparency.

“I think the three situations are different but all very serious and I think we need to make sure that things are done in a transparent and truly independent manner.

“I think everyone should welcome transparency. Everyone would like these various topics to [end to] enable us to go back to motor racing, but I think until all the unanswered questions are answered people will continue to ask questions.

“I don’t think it’s a great situation that we’re in, that we’re three races into the calendar and we’re still talking about these issues. We need to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to speak up so I think it’s important that the FIA as our governing body addresses this swiftly, transparently, and coming to the right conclusions, whatever those may be.”

RB CEO Peter Bayer, who previously worked at the FIA as an executive director, spoke in similar terms and reiterated the need for transparency.

“Having been at the FIA for a couple of years, being responsible for the motorsport side of the regulator and legislator of motorsport, I think they are capable because they’ve selected people from other roles.

“There’s an independent ethics committee there since when I was there, we’ve established the compliance officer, whistleblowing hotlines and I think one thing that we see is the sport has grown massively in a very short amount of time and a lot of people are asking for transparency.

“I guess we will have to try and understand where we can have transparency because when it’s about individual topics, or complaints coming through a whistleblowing hotline, you have to make sure that there is protection for people doing whistleblowing.”

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The BBC’s Andrew Benson then directly asked the team principals what they made of the whistleblower’s claims, suggesting that everyone knew who it was behind the reports, but the team bosses again declined to make any strong comments.

“I think that we have to have confidence in the organisation,” Bayer continued. “It’s the same when you have a stewards’ decision, ultimately we have to be happy with the process.

“I guess another question we have to ask ourselves is what is actually the remit of the regulator and legislator of motorsport? That is very, very important for us to have confidence and to trust them and yes, we do.”

As for Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur, he suggested it was not fair to ask them about individual cases.

“Ultimately we have no option but to be confident,” he said. “We don’t know what the whistleblower said at the end of the day.

“Don’t ask us to have an opinion, we can have an opinion on the global system but not this particular case.”

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