FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem Under Investigation For Interfering With 2023 Saudi Arabia GP Result

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem Under Investigation For Interfering With 2023 Saudi Arabia GP Result

It's alleged that Mohammed Ben Sulayem intervened to overturn a penalty imposed on Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin during the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Aakash SinghUpdated: Tuesday, March 05, 2024, 01:16 PM IST
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Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the president of the FIA, finds himself embroiled in controversy amid allegations of influencing the outcome of a Formula One Grand Prix during the 2023 season.

Prompted by a whistleblower's claims, the FIA has initiated an investigation into Sulayem's conduct. It's alleged that he intervened to overturn a penalty imposed on Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin during the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

According to reports from the BBC, the accusation surfaced in a report authored by an FIA compliance officer for the organisation's ethics committee.

What happened in Saudi Arabia GP 2023?

The whistleblower asserts that Sulayem contacted Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the FIA's vice-president for sport for the Middle East and North Africa region, who was present in Saudi Arabia for the race in an official capacity. Sulayem purportedly conveyed his desire for Alonso's penalty to be rescinded.

Alonso initially received a five-second penalty for positioning his car partially outside his starting box on the grid. This penalty was served during his first pit stop. However, he incurred a subsequent 10-second penalty when it was deemed that Aston Martin breached regulations by conducting work on his car.

The latter penalty was issued because Alonso's car was touched by the rear jack before the prescribed duration had elapsed, violating F1 regulations.

Sulayem's role in the controversy

The compliance officer's report indicates that the whistleblower alleged Sulayem pressured the stewards to reverse their decision regarding Alonso's penalty.

The revocation of this penalty elevated Alonso from fourth place back to a podium position, behind Red Bull drivers Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, but ahead of Mercedes' George Russell.

The stewards' initial justification for overturning the penalty referenced discussions between F1 teams and the FIA regarding the protocol for conducting work on cars during pit stops while penalties are being served.

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