Shaila-Ann Rao will step down from her position six months after her controversial nomination as the FIA’s interim secretary general for motorsport.
According to a statement released on Wednesday, Shaila-Ann Rao, the FIA’s Interim Secretary General for Motor Sport, has left the organization that oversees Formula 1.
Peter Bayer’s resignation as FIA secretary general, head of single-seater issues, and F1 executive director led to Rao’s appointment on an interim basis.
She had previously worked with the FIA as a legal director from 2016 to 2018 before she was general counsel and then team boss Toto Wolff’s special advisor.
The F1 teams expressed their disapproval of Rao’s nomination and raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest. The nomination caused Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto to voice “concerns,” but he was convinced that the governing board would make sure there were no “conflicts of interest.”
Red Bull’s cost cap breach case brought Rao back into the public eye since information concerning the breach was leaked. Rumors suggested that she was responsible for the leak, but FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem vehemently disputed the claims and defended the attorney.
“Shaila-Ann Rao returned to the FIA to assist the new presidential team during the transition period as interim secretary general for motorsport,” an FIA statement read. “Shaila-Ann successfully managed this transition period, providing valuable support and assistance to the FIA president and the organisation during this period which is now coming to an end.”
“Shaila-Ann will now therefore be leaving the FIA following the end of the Formula 1 season. The FIA thanks Shaila-Ann for her support during this period.”
Commenting, the President of the FIA Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “On behalf of everyone at the FIA, I would like to thank Shaila-Ann for her invaluable contribution in her role as Interim Secretary General for Motor Sport during an important transitional phase for the organisation.”
“In particular, Shaila-Ann has provided me with great support in respect to Formula 1, always acting with professionalism and integrity.”
He also gave her credit for the work she had done for the FIA and how well she had performed in the selection process during last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“We never had a CEO for 118 years, but if we are to face the challenges of today I cannot micro-manage. We are talking about the presidential team,” Ben Sulayem said. “But when you go to the CEO you are talking about policies, managing the structure, the day-to-day running of the FIA and the finance.”
“We all know we had an issue with the finance, a deficit this year of over 20 million. I’m happy to know even with the banishing of waste it has not affected the support and grants to any club – and that’s the CEO’s job.”
“The CEO is needed when there is a plan, a budget… We lacked it before and it was in my manifesto then it was approved by the members and even the process I was very happy.”
“There was a head hunter and there were over 150 CVs. We had two personnel from World Motorsport Council and two from World Mobility Council and we had the two committees and the senate who went through the process.”
“Then we were down to three and I chose the female. She needs our support and she’s learning but you need someone there in the FIA and you need leadership also.”