Mohammed Ben Sulayem believes simmering attitudes from the end of the 2021 Formula 1 season will cool over time, aided by improvements that the new FIA president is targeting for next year.
Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff both decided against attending the FIA Prize Giving Gala last week in protest at the handling of the end of the final race in Abu Dhabi, where race director Michael Masi set up a final-lap shootout that allowed Max Verstappen to snatch the title from the Mercedes driver. Ben Sulayem was voted in as president just five days after that event, and says he will involve the drivers as he oversees a detailed analysis into the final race, although he believes time will mend the relationship between the FIA, Hamilton and F1 fans.
Ben Sulayem competed in the FIA Middle East Rally between 1983 and 2002 winning the competition 14 times, he has since held several roles in the FIA but is set to become the head of Formula 1’s governing body for the next four years. Former President, Jean Todt left the post after a lengthy period making it a seamless transition.
He was the World Motor Sport Council’s member and Vice President for Sport between 2008 and 2013. Other telling contributions to F1 include being the founder of the FIA ACTAC region for the Middle East and North African countries, serving as the Vice President for Automobile Mobility and Tourism between 2013 and 2017 and being a member of the Innovation Fund Steering Committee.
“I am very honoured to have been elected FIA President after the Annual General Assembly in Paris ,” he stated.
“I thank all the Member Clubs for their esteem and trust. I congratulate Graham for his campaign and his engagement to the Federation. I am committed to pursuing the important work and making motorsport and mobility take further steps forward,” he continued.
His competition was Stoker, a former F1 and FIA steward, the super licence holder and FIA Deputy President for Sport for over 11 years and has also held many other roles. In a landslide victory, Ben Sulayem and Stoker received 61.62% and 36.62% of the votes respectively with just 1.76% abstaining.
Ben Sulayem added saying, “I wish to express my infinite gratitude in the name of the FIA and that of its Members to Jean Todt for all that has been achieved over the past 12 years.”
Todt, the former President left the role he has held since 2009 and congratulated Ben Sulayem.
“A chapter has come to an end. We can be collectively satisfied with our achievements in motorsport and safe and sustainable mobility over the past 12 years. I would like to warmly thank my team, our administration and all our Member Clubs for their unwavering commitment, enthusiasm and resilience,” Todt said.
“I congratulate Mohammed on his election as FIA President and wish him, his team, and the Federation the best of success for the years to come,” he added.
Also, Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1, stated: “I want to personally congratulate Mohammed Ben Sulayem on his election as President of the FIA. Formula 1 and the FIA have always been determined to ensure the long-term success of our sport and I know this will continue under his new leadership.”
And its already being tested with the mandate of better communication into 2022 towards rules and accountability suggested by Toto Wolf in a steely press conference.
Ben adds , “I said being a driver and losing after all this time is not easy. One thing I would say is he was broken, but these are the rules and you have to follow them. But as I promised we will look into the rules and make sure that any situation like this that occurs in the future. we will have an instant solution for it or we avoid it.
“As I said, there are so many areas that we can improve — we cannot just sit and say we are good, it’s not enough in a sport as heavy and important, especially when you talk about the fans.”