FIA and F1 hold peace talks following months of growing tensions

FIA and F1 hold peace talks following months of growing tensions

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali held peace talks on Wednesday following growing tensions between the two organizations.

The FIA and Formula One Management have decided to bury the hatchet and collaborate on a new “strategic plan” for the sport’s future following a protracted period of controversial encounters and public disagreements.

The recent peace talk comes after talks between F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem. The parties expressed their commitment to cooperate for the betterment of the sport and its stakeholders in a statement released on Wednesday, recognizing F1’s current success and global expansion.

“The FIA Formula 1 World Championship has never been so strong and is growing globally and the FIA and Formula 1 are committed to delivering the best outcomes for the whole sport,” stated the governing body on its website.

“To that end, both parties are developing a new strategic plan that will allow us to seize the opportunities and further enhance the potential for F1 in the years ahead.”

That said, it’s a welcome change of heart for the two bodies that have been at loggerheads for the past eighteen months, both in public and behind closed doors. It was alleged that FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been trying to assert his power and influence, a management style that has generated criticism from the FOM.

Tensions between the FIA and F1 have increased since Ben Sulayem took office in December 2021 following the controversial conclusion of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, wherein Michael Masi’s handling of the safety car restart was investigated by the FIA.

F1 accused Ben Sulayem of “unacceptable” intervention in January 2023 when it came to light that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) was offering F1 $20 billion as it considered a bid. Despite Ben Sulayem’s warning about the “inflated” figure, tensions between the FIA and F1 escalated as a result, while the Andretti entry bid further strained relations between the respective organizations.

Andretti’s proposed entry bid was approved by the FIA after it was determined to meet all technical and sporting requirements. However, following commercial discussions, F1 rejected it for a scheduled 2026 entry stating the door is open for the Amrican outfit in 2028 on condition that General Motors supplies a power unit.

Additionally, there was the brief FIA inquiry into a potential conflict of interest involving Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff and his wife F1 Academy CEO Susie Wolff. The latter filed a lawsuit against the regulatory body although the FIA terminated its investigation. The legal proceedings are still pending.

The FIA’s Ethic Committee investigated into Ben Sulayem’s claims—made by a whistleblower—that he had interfered in race decisions, but ultimately cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Now that it appears all parties are committed to presenting a unified front, each can zero in on what really counts, which is giving the F1 fans and competitors an exciting, competitive, and a constantly improving Formula 1 experience.

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