FIA President Ben Sulayem Steps Down, Faces Fight to Retain Office After Controversies
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has given up his hands-on-control of Formula One following several controversies.
The 61-year-old now reportedly faces a battle to remain in his position.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem is giving up with hands-on approach to his presidencyCredit: PA
Ben Sulayem made the unexpected announcement via a letter he sent to team chiefs earlier this week.
The Daily Mail claim that he remains in his position as one of the most powerful people in motorsport but he is taking a step back following criticism from allies.
The former rally champion from the United Arab Emirates always planned to take a backseat as chief.
However, he was often in the public eye during last season, handing out trophies on the podium and mingling with drivers on the starting grid.
Ben Sulayem’s letter read: “My stated objective was to be a non-executive president via the recruitment of a team of professional managers, which has now been largely completed.
“Therefore, going forward, your day-to-day contact for all matters on F1 will be with Nikolas [Tombazis, director of single-seater racing] and his team.
“I will focus on strategic matters with my leadership team.”
His decision comes after much disapproval and seeing his popularity decrease amongst some in recent weeks.
Sexist comments made by him on a website in 2001 have resurfaced where he claimed that “women who think they are smarter than men, for they are not in truth”.
The FIA jumped to his defence, saying the remarks did not represent his true beliefs.
There has also been a controversy over a potential sale of the sport to Saudi Arabian investors.
F1 executives slammed Ben Sulayem for speaking out on the deal, which has supposedly further damaged the wedge between current owners Liberty Media and the FIA.
And during the off-season, he demanded drivers stay silent on social issues and not “impose their beliefs” on others.
Lewis Hamilton will refuse to remain quiet.
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