The ongoing power struggle between the FIA and F1 teams, represented by Formula One Management (FOM), has intensified with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s public statements about admitting Andretti and General Motors, which have been met with resistance from FOM and the teams.
‣ There is an ongoing power struggle between the FIA and the FOM/F1 teams, with frequent incidents occurring since Mohammed Ben Sulayem joined the FIA in late 2021.
‣ The Andretti case exemplifies this struggle, with the FIA wanting Andretti and General Motors to be admitted, but FOM and the F1 teams having reservations.
‣ The FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has been criticized for interfering in matters outside his remit, such as presenting prizes to drivers and giving interviews on F1.
‣ There is a reported battle between Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Toto Wolff, with the FIA president allegedly unhappy with statements made by Wolff in the media and behind the scenes.
Toto Wolff and Susie Wolff are in the hot seat. Yet, the F1 teams’ responses yesterday were telling. It’s not about Mercedes. It’s a different chapter in the ongoing power struggle between the FIA and F1.
The relationship between the FIA and the FOM/F1 teams has been rocky for years. Since Mohammed Ben Sulayem took the reins of the FIA in late 2021, there have been regular clashes with the FOM. The FOM, which holds the commercial interests of F1, often finds itself at odds with the FIA.
The Andretti case is a prime example. The FIA wants Andretti and General Motors to be included, but the FOM and F1 teams have doubts. Instead of discussing these matters privately, the FIA president uses the media to make his point.
The FIA disclosed their desire for Andretti’s admission, passing the ball to the FOM. Ben Sulayem added fuel to the fire in an interview, expressing confusion over the other teams’ resistance. The teams, however, are not pleased with these remarks from the FIA president. After all, it’s not his place to comment. The FIA approves entries, while the FOM determines the commercial value of new teams.
The FIA president’s interference is evident in several ways. He presents awards to drivers after sprint races and frequently shares his opinions on F1 in interviews. Yet, as FIA president, he has no control over F1’s direction.
F1 aims to increase commercial appeal by hosting more races with financially stable teams. They organized their first race, the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which brought in significant revenue. However, the FIA president has a different perspective. In an interview, Ben Sulayem expressed his preference for more teams and fewer races in F1.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been under fire before. Despite playing the victim in a recent interview, the FIA didn’t let him step down in early 2023 for no reason. He’s back in his daily role, but the teams and F1 are still not fans. His controversial comments on matters he shouldn’t involve himself in, and his remarks about women, are the main issues.
The teams’ disdain for the president was evident in the recent controversy involving Toto Wolff and Susie Wolff. Mercedes and Susie are furious, and so is F1. The FIA unexpectedly revealed this investigation through the media, which seemed like an attack on F1 and the Wolffs.
According to the BBC, insiders claim there’s a feud between Sulayem and Toto Wolff. Sulayem is reportedly unhappy with Wolff’s comments in the media and behind the scenes. The FIA’s attempt to retaliate isn’t going well.
F1 teams united to support Mercedes and the Wolff family. They all echoed the same message, indicating a coordinated show of support for Mercedes and a counterattack against the FIA.
There’s growing chatter that Sulayem should step down. He’s taken a step back before and returned, but there’s been no improvement. Now more than ever, he and the FIA are meddling in matters they should steer clear of.