Ben Sulayem investigated for alleged race result interference!

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Mohammed Ben Sulayem is in hot water, with reports claiming that the FIA president is under investigation by the governing body for allegedly intervening to change the results of the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The crux of the investigation rests apparently on a whistleblower’s claim that a penalty levied upon Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was rescinded as a direct result of Ben Sulayem’s intervention.

Alonso finished the race in Jeddah third on the road behind Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez before he was hit with a 10-second penalty for the team touching the Spaniard’s car during a penalty stop, an offence that dropped the Aston charger to fourth in the race’s standings.

However, the FIA stewards later reversed their call, restoring Alonso third-place and his 100th career podium in the event’s final results.

Alonso’s troubles with the stewards had initially started when he was given a 5-second penalty for lining up incorrectly in his grid box at the start of the race.

Upon the Aston Martin’s immobilization at its pit to serve the 5-second sanction, and ahead of a tyre change, a rear jack had come into contact with Alonso's car, a move that equated to “working on the car” according to a so-called agreed position between the FIA and F1 teams and which constituted an offence.

However, Aston Martin’s Andy Stevenson could find no such agreement in place with the teams which compelled the stewards to overturn their decision, restoring Alonso to third in the event’s final results.

It is now believed that this decision by the stewards may have been the result of behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Ben Sulayem who is alleged to have called close friend Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamas bin Isa Al Khalifa, the FIA vice-president for sport for the Middle East and North Africa region, who was present at the race.

The dubious case is now under the microscope of the FIA's ethics committee, with a report submitted to the governing body by FIA compliance officer Paolo Basarri.

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

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”.

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