Ben Sulayem: F1 would be like WWE without governance


FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been reflecting on his first year in charge of motorsport's governing body, and warned that Formula 1 needs strict controls to ensure it doesn't end up descending into chaos.

The FIA has been under fire in recent months after a number of controversies about the way it handles races as well as the overall administration of the regulations the sport runs under.

Last year's season finale in Abu Dhabi led to a reform of race control and the departure of race director Michael Masi, but this has only led to more questionable moments in 2022 in Monaco, Monza and Suzuka.

There was also much debate about the way in which the FIA handled Red Bull's breach of the team cost cap, which saw the squad fined and lose aerodynamic testing time - but did not affect their championship victories.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner had an awkward moment during the presentation ceremony Ben Sulayem with a mention of the penalty, while Horner provoked a sharp response from the FIA president over the points confusion in Japan.

But addressing a press conference at the FIA Gala in Bologna on Friday, Ben Sulayem was in bullish mood and defended his handling of the sport since he took over from Jean Todt at the beginning of the year.

“Formula 1, it is the pinnacle,” he said. “Always you will find controversy in it. You will find the challenge, the teams are up to the limit there. They always want to find the way to go. So it is a challenging.


"Eery hour is challenging there," he continued. "It’s healthy. It’s going so good. But you see us, as the FIA, we should also be careful. There is the side of the money, but the governance has to be right also.”

“You cannot just have it without the rules,” he insisted. “You cannot have it without amending it, updating it. What would you end up with? Like wrestling? Like WWF, which has no governance? No, the governance has to be there.”

Ben Sulayem was making reference to the US wrestling series, now called World Wrestling Entertainment after its original acronym was deemed too similar to that of international non-governmental body World Wide Fund for Nature.

Known for its big characters and cartoon action, WWE struggles to be taken seriously as a sport and is often viewed as pure entertainment - not a route that Ben Sulayem wants to see F1 ever go down.

“I knew there must be a big challenge in the FIA: improving it, updating it to the new era,” he continued. “Now it’s like a telephone, if you don’t update your telephone, you will be behind.

Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Formula One President and CEO with Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director and Mohammed Bin Sulayem (UAE) FIA President. 09.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Practice

"Definitely the teams, the technology is going ahead and ahead and we have to be not just up to that, but ahead of that," he said. "And the regulations, the finance.

"The FIA inherited some of the issues from before – and you cannot take decisions without going, digging in and getting all the facts and then going further.

"One year has been a challenge. I’m not talking about Formula 1, I’m talking as the FIA as a whole," he said, adding: “The FIA is complex.

"If you look at another game, like football, I mean look at the regulations there," he explained. "There is one goal size, there is one size of a football and there everybody is watching.

"[But if] you look at karting, imagine the regulations that goes into it. Imagine all the disciplines. Forget Formula 1, go to rallying and others.

"Every day is a challenge," he concluded. "But an enjoyable challenge.”

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter