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It's not about money, insists FIA president

NEWS STORY
19/05/2022

FIA president, Mohammed ben Sulayem insists that the sport's governing body's hesitation in rubber-stamping the approval of six Sprints in 2023 is not about money.

Following last month's meeting of the F1 Commission it was revealed that while supporting the principle of an increased number of Sprint events in 2023, the FIA was still evaluating the impact of the proposal on its trackside operations and personnel, and would provide its feedback to the commission.

With F1 bosses seeking to increase the number of Sprints from three to six, it was subsequently claimed that the FIA's hesitance to agree to the move was motivated by money.

According to Sky Sports, its sources claimed that "unjustifiable financial requests" were at the root of the FIA's prevarication.

"The word 'greed' was actually used to me," Sky Sports Craig Slater told Sky Sports News. "And a couple of teams said that, in their view, the FIA do not incur significant extra costs by replacing a practice session with a sprint event.

"They're shocked that the FIA has taken this position," he added. "What we've had at this meeting is a very significant split at the very highest level of Formula One.

"Among the subjects discussed was increasing the number of sprints to six next year - the sport's commercial rights holder, was in favour of that, there was unanimity among the 10 teams in favour of that as well, but it has not happened because the FIA cannot support it at this point.

"F1 and the teams have seen how the sprint increased TV audiences and view it attractive to younger fans. They hope it could gain independent sponsorship and become an even bigger revenue stream.

"A number of senior figures at the meeting also told me they were bemused at FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem's general attitude. They felt he was more interested in talking about issues like drivers wearing jewellery than some of the major concerns confronting F1. There is growing concern he is not aligned with F1's direction of travel."

Speaking to the Daily Mail, ben Sulayem was keen to dismiss the claim.

"I did not ask for more money," he says, "but if I had I would have wanted to use it in the right way, to invest in the proper regulation of the sport.

"We say Formula 1 is the pinnacle, and it is, so we at the FIA need the resources to govern the technical and financial side of a billion-dollar sport in a manner that respects that," he adds. "We need the capability to observe those standards.

"So, specifically with regard to the sprints, I have to see whether my team on the ground can absorb the extra workload the races would entail.

"After Abu Dhabi people said we should change this or that," he continues. So I don't understand why we would suddenly ask the FIA team to do more. An incident happens in the future, such as one involving a safety car, and then what?

"We need to look into all this and make a sensible decision. Let us run our operation. We are going to fix it.

"I support the races if it is the right thing to do," he insists. "I'm not saying it is the wrong thing. I am saying there is time to decide. This is for 2023, not this season. Our house isn't on fire.

"We have what is called a democracy, Formula 1 has a vote, the teams have a vote, I have a vote. If you then say I can't abstain or take time to study the proposals then you are not allowing me the freedom of democracy."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Max Noble, 20/05/2022 8:10

"@Defiant - add “Must pass all safety tests.” To your final paragraph, and we’ve got the rule book rewritten in a quarter of a page… sigh…"

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Roli, 19/05/2022 19:14

"Is this guy just real or does he think we are all cretins? Its always about money. Definitely not about F1 and absolutely 100% certain not about what the fans want. We don't want frills, fake Marinas, oil rich Oligarchs or over paid celebrities...F1 is about to die and they are just squezing the life out of it. Bless Bernie, he just would tell them all to f off. I'm going to a Classic Mini racing at Cadwell this weekend, and believe you me, it will be more entertaining. Bye. R"

Rating: Positive (6)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Defiant, 19/05/2022 19:00

"This may not be a popular statement, but it's been a long time since F1 has been the pinnacle of motorsport.

WRC is far more of a drivers showcase. MotoGP is far more exciting in nearly every way. LMP1 racing is better engineering.

What happened to our beloved sport? Too many people like Ben who want to interfere, that's what.

I wish F1 was more open, 'here's a box' make sure it fits in it. Tyre's? sure make sure they are round and sticky. fuel? yup you'll need some of that. Lets go race then."

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