FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem under investigation for interfering with race results

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem under investigation for interfering with race results

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is currently being investigated by his organization for allegedly interfering with last season’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix race results.

According to sources, Mohammed Ben Sulayem is facing serious consequences from the Formula 1 governing body, the FIA, as he is currently under investigation for his alleged involvement in interfering with the results of the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The main focus of the investigation appears to be centered around a whistleblower’s allegation that Ben Sulayem’s influence directly resulted in the revocation of a penalty handed to Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

Alonso received a 10-second penalty for the crew touching the Spaniard’s car during a penalty stop, which dropped the Aston Martin driver to fourth in the event’s results after he had initially finished the race in Jeddah third on the road behind Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

But in the event’s final results, the FIA stewards overturned their decision handing Alonso his 100th career podium and restoring him to third place. His troubles with the F1 stewards began after starting the race with an erroneous grid position lineup resulting in a 5-second penalty.

The final infraction came after Alonso’s car was found to be in violation when a rear jack made contact during the Aston Martin’s immobilization at the pit to serve the 5-second penalty. This incident happened ahead of a tyre change and could be interpreted as “working on the car” as per an allegedly agreed-upon stance between the FIA and F1 teams.

But, Aston Martin’s Andy Stevenson was unable to figure out an agreement of that kind with the teams, forcing the stewards to reverse their ruling and restore Alonso to third in the event’s final standings.

It has now been reported that Ben Sulayem may have executed a secret plot to influence the stewards’ decision. According to a report seen by the BBC from FIA compliance officer Paolo Basarri to its ethics committee the president allegedly interfered to reverse a penalty handed to Fernando Alonso.

It is claimed that Ben Sulayem made contact with Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who was present at the event in an official role as the FIA’s vice-president for sport for the Middle East and North Africa.

The evidence also contained the minutes of a Sporting Advisory Committee meeting along with a video showing “seven different instances where cars were touched by the jack while serving a similar penalty… without being penalized.”

In its report, BBC Sport says that it has “verified the information with several senior figures at high levels in F1 and close to the FIA. None would go on the record, but all said they had the same information”.

An FIA representative confirmed that “the matter is being discussed internally” but was unable to provide any further details. Meanwhile, Ben Sulayem could not be immediately reached for comment.

The ethics committee is expected to take four to six weeks to issue its review.

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