After weeks of speculation, Mohammed Ben Sulayem has said that he will not stand for election of the FIA presidency and will instead give his full support to Jean Todt.
In July, Sulayem was appointed by the FIA to chair a new task force charged with the responsibility to build a ten-year plan for the sport's global development, the first such plan in the 109-year history of the FIA.
Previously, Sulayem, the first Arab to be elected to the World Motorsport Council, since taking charge of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE in 2006, has established it as a leading national motor sport authority, with acknowledged expertise in associated training, research and education.
In the wake of David Ward's decision to stand as a candidate in the election, there had been speculation that Sulayem would also stand, either in his own right or on a 'joint-ticket' with the Englishman. Indeed, some speculated that Ward's campaign was a form of 'Trojan horse' with the true aim of getting Sulayem into the post.
However, he has ended the speculation by announcing that he not going to stand and will instead throw his support behind the current president, Jean Todt.
“Following careful consideration, I can confirm that I have accepted Jean Todt’s invitation to support his re-election as President of the FIA, and to stand for a second term as FIA Vice President for Sport," he said. “It is now time to focus on the big issues facing the FIA, including doing what is needed to make the new Concorde agreement work for all parties in F1, approving a new plan for the World Rally Championship, and giving maximum support to our member clubs to develop and grow motorsport around the world.”
The announcement isn't a major blow to Ward indeed, he has said that he is willing to stand down and leave Todt unopposed providing the Frenchman guarantees a complete overhaul of the governance of the FIA, "promoting the effectiveness and accountability of its leadership".
Ward, former policy adviser to the late Rt Hon John Smith MP, arguably the best Prime Minister Britain never had, denies that he has issues with Todt despite saying that the FIA “is not fit for purpose". Indeed, he cites the fact that he backed the Frenchman's campaign in 2009 and also wrote his manifesto.
Rather than seeking a role in the spotlight, Ward insists that he is looking to work behind the scenes, focussing on governance reform, and, if elected, would appoint a special commissioner to run F1 on a daily basis.
The election is on December 6, the deadline for nominations being November 15.