Ferrari 'concerned' by FIA hiring former Mercedes F1 executive

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Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto has expressed his concern with the FIA appointing former Mercedes F1 executive Shaila-Ann Rao to a senior F1 role with the governing body.

Rao has replaced recently departed Secretary for Sport and executive director for F1 Peter Bayer.

Shaila-Ann Rao previously held the position of FIA Legal Director from mid-2016 to 2018, but then moved to Mercedes where she worked as a General Counsel at the Brackley squad and as a special advisor to team principal toto Wolff.

And that title and working experience on Rao's CV hasn't been lost of Ferrari.

"Yes, certainly it's a concern," said Binotto in Baku on Saturday. "I think she's a great person. She's got a lot of experience, she will certainly be capable of doing the job. I'm pretty sure on that.

"It's a concern, but it's only a concern. I think it's down to them [the FIA] to make sure that there will be no conflicts of interest at all, to behave properly, and it's down to the president to ensure it.

"I've got the trust that they will do it. As Ferrari we are concerned, but I'm pretty sure that through the behaviours, through the decisions, they will prove it's a wrong concern."

As for Wolff, the Mercedes boss is convinced that Rao's presence at the FIA will only benefit F1's teams.

"Shaila-Ann was at the FIA, before she joined us," said the Austrian. "She was the chief executive officer of one of the largest sports agencies before, and the positive of having Shaila-Ann in this position is that she's one about governance, and transparency. She's a lawyer.

"And I think this is something that we have always criticised in the past, that things weren't always as transparent and as clear for the teams.

"And I think this is one of the key topics that she will be trying to implement. And that is good news for all of the teams."
Wolff nevertheless regretted Bayer's departure, a result of several changes undertaken at the FIA by its president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

"We worked with Peter Bayer for quite some time," said the Mercedes boss. "And he was a rational guy.

"I personally enjoyed having him as a sparring partner. But the FIA is changing its structure and its organisation, and then the president has to make his decisions.

"And we certainly shouldn't interfere into any of those decisions. I think he has a vision about where he wants to have the FIA. And if part of that is a change of organisation, we need to respect it."

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