Ben Sulayem absolved of any wrongdoing by FIA

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The FIA has cleared its president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, of any wrongdoing concerning allegations of interference at two Formula 1 events in 2023.

An investigation by the FIA's Ethics Committee found no basis for claims that Ben Sulayem had effectively interfered with race decisions.

Specifically, the probe examined accusations that Ben Sulayem attempted to influence the outcome of a penalty levied against Fernando Alonso at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah.

The initial penalty involved a five-second time addition for Alonso's irregular grid position. He served it during a safety car period. However, a further 10-second penalty was applied as stewards deemed his pit crew started work on the Spaniard’s prematurely.

This additional penalty dropped Alonso from a podium finish to fourth place, much to his disappointment.

Aston Martin successfully contested the penalty, leading to its reversal a day later.

The second allegation against Ben Sulayem related to his approval of the Las Vegas Grand Prix track's certification just days before the showcase event was scheduled to take place.

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It was claimed that “officials” were told "on behest of the FIA president" to find a way not to pass the Las Vegas circuit safe for racing.

However, the officials were unable to find any concerns with the circuit and therefore certified the circuit fit for the race.
Both allegations were filed by the same whistleblower, reportedly a member of the FIA’s staff.

The full FIA statement read: "The FIA Compliance Department, supported by external advisors, conducted thorough inquiries over allegations of potential interference in sporting decisions during Formula One events in 2023.

"After reviewing the results of the inquiries, the Ethics Committee were unanimous in their determination that there was no evidence to substantiate allegations of interference of any kind involving the FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

"Concerns over potential interference were brought to the attention of the FIA Compliance Officer and subsequently passed to the FIA Ethics Committee under Article 32.2.5 of the FIA Statutes.

"There followed a robust and wide-ranging independent review spanning 30 days, which included interviews with 11 witnesses.

"Allegations against the FIA President were unsubstantiated and strong evidence beyond any reasonable doubt was presented to support the determination of the FIA Ethics Committee.

"The FIA President was cleared of any wrongdoing regarding allegations (i) to have interfered with the Stewards' decision to reverse an additional penalty on Car 14 following a challenge from the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2023 and (ii) to have attempted to interfere with the track certification process for the Las Vegas Grand Prix 2023. The certification was completed and approved in due time.

"The President['s] complete co-operation, transparency, and compliance throughout the process during this investigation was greatly appreciated."

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