FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has told Formula 1 team bosses he will withdraw from the day-to-day running of the sport and instead place it in the hands of professional managers. Wednesday’s announcement comes after recent controversy sparked by Emirati, 61, who has served on the Paris-based governing body since late 2021.
TV channels BBC and Sky Sports quoted Ben Sulayem in a letter to the 10 teams detailing the changes. “My stated goal was to become a non-executive president through the recruitment of a team of professional managers, which is now largely complete,” he said.
“Therefore your day-to-day contact for all matters in Formula 1 going forward will be with (head of single-seater racing) Nikolas (Tombazis) and his team, while I will focus on strategic matters with my management team.” The FIA quit announced changes to their Formula 1 structure last month, with Steve Nielsen, who has decades of experience with various teams, joining as sporting director from the commercial rights holder.
Tim Goss, a former McLaren technical director, rose from deputy technical director at the FIA to succeed Tombazis. Francois Sicard, previously Sports Director, has been given a new role as Head of Formula 1 Strategy and Operations, responsible for long-term strategic planning and key circuit activities and logistics.
The FIA has also appointed American Natalie Robyn as Managing Director. Relations between Formula 1 and the FIA have frayed during Ben Sulayem’s presidency on issues ranging from sprint races to restrictions on drivers making ‘political’ statements and his support for an 11th team.
Formula 1’s top lawyer sent an extraordinary letter to the FIA last month, in which he accused Ben Sulayem of interfering in the commercial rights “in an unacceptable manner” after he challenged an assessment. Decades-old sexist comments attributed to Ben Sulayem also recently surfaced in the media, from an old personal website that had been archived.
The season starts in Bahrain on March 5th.
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