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FIA president Ben Sulayem confronts F1 accusations

FIA president Ben Sulayem confronts F1 accusations
© Reuters
Amid a clear and intensifying struggle for power, Mohammed Ben Sulayem continues to push forward, asserting that he does not necessarily rely on the endorsement of "the Formula 1 teams".

Amid a clear and intensifying struggle for power, Mohammed Ben Sulayem continues to push forward, asserting that he does not necessarily rely on the endorsement of "the Formula 1 teams".

It is already known that Toto Wolff's wife, Susie, has initiated defamation proceedings against the contentious FIA president following remarks made by Ben Sulayem earlier this year.

He has also been accused of attempting to obstruct Liberty Media's inaugural high-profile Las Vegas Grand Prix last year, as well as meddling in the decision-making processes of race stewards.

In response, the FIA has recently published numerous letters supporting Ben Sulayem from car clubs and other affiliates of the Paris-based regulatory body.

"I am overwhelmed by the support of the FIA members," he shared with AFP news agency. "People need to understand that it is the members who put me where I am.

"It is not the media or the Formula 1 teams who are at the origin. I respect them, but I was not elected to care about their opinion or anyone's opinion of me. I care about what was promised in my program.

"I wish the accusations against me were just accusations, but I have been convicted in the court of public opinion," Ben Sulayem expressed. "I have nothing to hide."

Significantly, the major complaints against the 62-year-old former rally driver from the Middle East have emerged from within the F1 circle.

However, Ben Sulayem disclosed: "They haven't had the guts to come and see me. Honestly, I can stand up straight, look you in the eye and tell you that I'm a sportsman and I play by the rules.

"I know who is behind all this, but I cannot say."

He refuted the notion that he is fundamentally at odds not only with the F1 teams but also with the sport's commercial rights holder, Formula One Management, owned by Liberty Media.

"Very good," he affirmed when inquired about his relationship with FOM. "FOM is our partner. I have no problem. I just want to continue doing business with them."

Nevertheless, Ben Sulayem maintains that he is distancing himself from the ongoing internal conflicts at Red Bull, featuring Christian Horner prominently.

"I sympathise with all stakeholders in this matter," he stated. "But we are external actors in all of this. We cannot add fuel to the fire.

"I have confidence in the investigation that has been carried out, the other party has the right to appeal, but does this concern the FIA? I don't think so."

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner ahead of practice on November 17, 2023
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