F1

FIA boss Mohammed Ben Sulayem investigated over alleged interference in F1 race

It reportedly concerns the overturning of a penalty given to Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem is the president of the FIA )David Davies/PA).
Bahrain Grand Prix – Race – Bahrain International Circuit Mohammed Ben Sulayem is the president of the FIA )David Davies/PA). (David Davies/PA)

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is reportedly under investigation for allegedly interfering with the result of a Formula One race.

According to the BBC, a report by motorsport governing body’s compliance officer Paolo Basarri to the ethics committee says Ben Sulayem acted to overturn a penalty given to Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The PA news agency has contacted the FIA, but it is understood that because matters like this rest with the ethics committee, an independent body, the FIA is unlikely to offer any comment while any due process runs its course.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem pictured at Silverstone last year .
Mohammed Ben Sulayem pictured at Silverstone last year Mohammed Ben Sulayem pictured at Silverstone last year . (David Davies/PA)

The BBC report claims a whistleblower alleged Ben Sulayem called Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa – FIA vice-president for sport for the Middle East and North Africa region, who was in Saudi Arabia for the race in an official capacity – and made it clear he thought Alonso’s penalty should be revoked.

The removal of Alonso’s 10-second penalty, imposed for work done on his car while he was serving a previous five-second penalty, returned him to the podium behind Red Bull duo Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, after the sanction had dropped him to fourth.

At the time there was no suggestion there was anything untoward with the decision after Aston Martin’s sporting director Andy Stevenson had put the team’s case to stewards in a right of review.