Ben Sulayem: FIA relationship with F1 'has never been better'

Mohammed Bin Sulayem (UAE) FIA President with Usain Bolt (JAM) Former Athlete and Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Formula One President and CEO on the grid. 20.11.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Race
© XPB 

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says that the relationship between the governing body and Formula One Management owned and managed by Liberty Media has never been better.

That's in response to gossip and behind the scenes rumours that there have been strains and widening rifts between the two parties in recent month, as F1 seeks to capitalise on recent successes and expand its profile around the world.

The FIA itself has been under attack for a number of issues since Ben Sulayem took over control of the FIA from his predecessor Jean Todt at the start of the year.

The way that the FIA handled Red Bull's cost cap overspend has been criticised, and teams weren't happy with the FIA blocking proposals to raise the number of sprint races to six next season.

But Ben Sulayem denied that there were any rifts between himself and his FOM counterpart Stefano Domenicali and insisted that the two had been in constant communication over the course of the year.

"I speak to Stefano every two days and if I don't, he calls me," he told the media in Abu Dhabi last week. "This is the way, even before any meeting or decisions.

Mohammed Bin Sulayem (UAE) FIA President with pole sitter Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in qualifying parc ferme. 19.11.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Qualifying

"It's like a marriage that is going to last," he added. "I listen to him, he listens, to me and we both know that this marriage has to be sustainable and go further."

The situation with sprint races is still to be resolved, with the FIA taking the stance that it should get a bigger share of the revenue to compensate for the increased workload it will involve.

"It was April 25 and the F1 Commission meeting, when suddenly they said: 'Okay, we need three more sprint races'," he recalled. "I had about six phone calls saying 'What's going on?' and 'Where is the sprint proposal?'

"We approved the vote. We studied it. I went back and I checked with all of my team, but people don't understand the pressure that the staff or officials of the FIA [are under].

"I have to go back to my team and now you're talking about an extra [work] load and suddenly everybody said there is a split.

""That's where it started," he said. "People assumed that when I said about the three extra sprint races there was a split between FIA and FOM."

Far from there being any difference in opinion, Ben Sulayem said that the FIA and FOM were united in pushing forward with initiatives to improve both the the sporting and commercial side of F1.

"In the F1 Commission we agree and we push for things that are better for the sport," he stated.

"Sure there are questions out there, but definitely the relationship has never been better," he said, adding that it was going "from strength to strength"

"I am in a very good professional and personal relationship with FOM," he stated. "My interest in the sport is strong."

The FIA announced this week that its interim secretary-general for motorsport Shaila-Ann Rao - a former general consul for Mercedes F1 - was leaving the organisation after just six months in post.

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