In a recent report by BBC Sport, an unsettling revelation has surfaced in the world of Formula 1. The rumor mill is abuzz with speculations that Liberty Media, the current owner of F1, might be on the verge of severing its long-standing ties with the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile). This potential split stems from what can only be described as a tumultuous relationship between the two entities, with many top-tier figures in the sport voicing their concerns that it’s causing more harm than good.
The focal point of this discord is none other than FIA President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, whose direct involvement in Formula 1 affairs has raised more than a few eyebrows. High-ranking individuals within the sport believe that Ben Sulayem’s actions are not only detrimental but are also undermining the very essence of Formula 1.
At the heart of the matter lies the intricate dynamic between the sport’s governing body, the FIA, and its commercial rights holder, Liberty Media. Recent developments suggest that this relationship is teetering on the brink of collapse. A significant contributor to this tension has been the hands-on approach of FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem in various facets of Formula 1. His decisions, especially concerning the admission of new teams and the sale of commercial rights, have caused a ripple effect of discontent among F1’s leadership.
Ben Sulayem, who assumed office in December 2021, had initially opted to take a step back from the day-to-day operations earlier this year, primarily due to controversies surrounding his tenure. However, this move did little to quell the unease, as his continued involvement in shaping the sport’s strategic decisions has remained a contentious issue. Examples of this discord include his involvement in the re-examination of Lewis Hamilton’s actions at the Qatar Grand Prix and the tense interactions between team principals during the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Adding fuel to an already blazing fire is the recent controversy surrounding conflict of interest allegations implicating Mercedes’ Team Principal, Toto Wolff, and his wife, Susie Wolff, who serves as the director of the F1 Academy. The FIA’s decision to investigate these allegations, despite opposition from both Formula 1 and Mercedes, has only further intensified the brewing storm.
As tensions escalate, the future of the partnership between Liberty Media and the FIA hangs in the balance. The Formula 1 community watches with bated breath as these developments unfold, unsure of what the future may hold for the sport we all hold dear.
The BBC Sport report reveals:
“A number of sources told BBC Sport at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last month that if Ben Sulayem continued to act in a manner senior figures considered to be detrimental to the sport, F1 owners Liberty Media would lose patience and consider breaking away from the FIA.”