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Mohammed Ben Sulayem no longer managing F1’s daily operations

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Mohammed Ben Sulayem
Mohammed Ben Sulayem. Photo/Vincezo Landino
  • Mohammed Ben Sulayem is taking a step back from the daily running of Formula 1
  • He won’t participate in his capacity in the making of the junior-level decisions
  • It is in line with his campaign manifesto

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is taking a step back from the daily running of Formula 1 as the 2023 season starts.

He won’t participate in his capacity to make junior-level decisions. The FIA’s single-seat director Nikolas Tombazis will now oversee the management of such operations.

When Ben Sulayem became the FIA’s president in December 2021, he made a number of significant changes to the organisation.  He introduced a CEO into the corporation as part of these improvements.


In January 2023, the FIA announced plans to reorganise its senior F1 structure. As a result, Tombazis took on a more significant position, and Steve Nielsen was appointed sporting director after leaving F1.

Ben Sulayem will continue to participate in high-level decision-making and concentrate on strategic issues, but Tombazis will be the main point of contact for teams in the future.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem

Mohammed Ben Sulayem. Photo/Sky Sports

FIA, in a statement, said that Ben Sulayem, in his manifesto outlined a cohesive plan to create a governance framework that included the appointment of a CEO. His/her job would be working on an integrated and streamlined operation.


The FIA president intended to create an open democracy, growth and transparency within F1.

“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,” Motorsport reports.

Motorsports pundits cite that since the institutional re-organisation in Formula 1 is complete, this is a natural next step towards the growth and development of the sport. He is on the right path of ensuring that Formula 1 remains on its class in the global motorsport industry.


The action, which the FIA claims was long in the making, comes in the wake of several controversies involving the president. F1’s attorneys wrote to Ben Sulayem last month to express concern regarding comments he made in which he claimed a proposed $20 billion valuation of the sport was “inflated.”

According to reports, a Saudi Arabian prince offered $20 billion to purchase the rights to Formula 1. Ben Sulayem called this out on Twitter, saying that this was an inflated price and that no such projections should be made since they may have a bad impact on the sport. According to a 100-year leasing deal that the FIA and F1 negotiated at the beginning of this century, F1 currently owns the commercial rights to the category. The year 2017 saw the purchase of F1 by US company Liberty Media.

The FIA president came under fire from Formula One owners following his remarks on the championship’s overall value, which he boldly said was overvalued.

According to F1 owners in a joint statement, his remarks overstepped the confines of the FIA’s mandate and contractual rights. It further stated that the FIA could be accountable for any loss of value to liberty.

Ben Sulayem also attracted criticism after statements he made in 2001 that were found on his website appeared. In those comments, he expressed his dislike for “women who think they are brighter than men, for they are not in actuality.”

An older version of his former website contained the quotation. Ben Sulayem’s comments “do not reflect the FIA president’s ideas,” the FIA retaliated, citing his strong record of encouraging women and equality in sport.


Ben Sulayem FIA

Fernando Alonso with FIA president Ben Sulayem. Photo by xpbimages

Sulayem said that any possible buyer is asked to apply common sense, consider the more significant benefit of the sport, and arrive at a clear, sustainable plan – not simply a lot of money. At this juncture, he added the $20 billion F1 value was utterly inflated.

In the event of such a sale, FIA’s responsibility is to evaluate the long-term effects for promoters in terms of rising hosting fees and other commercial costs. The tense relationship between F1 and the FIA, evident during Ben Sulayem’s 13-month presidency, dramatically worsened after this.

The FIA and F1 are also at odds regarding how they feel about future additions to the grid, contributing to the rising tensions between them. While the FIA has legally begun the process and supports the Andretti/General Motors bid, there are some concerns among F1 and the current 10 teams over the proposals and what they would entail for the sport.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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  1. Pingback: Lewis Hamilton fights with FIA over free speech rule

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