Binotto admits he’s ‘concerned’ by FIA’s appointment of former Wolff advisor

Shaila-Ann Rao replaced Peter Bayer as the executive director of Formula 1 and the secretary general of sport at the FIA.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has expressed his scepticism over the FIA’s appointment of Shaila-Ann Rao, a former legal advisor to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

Bayer had acted as executive director and secretary general for sport at the FIA until a few races into the 2022 season, when he departed and was replaced by Rao.

Bayer had been moved across to his most recent role to oversee the work of Michael Masi and Nikolas Tombazis following the controversial end to the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi, before Masi was removed from his position as race director.

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Last weekend, the FIA introduced a new technical directive that was aimed at limiting “porpoising” and bouncing and, because it was brought in at such short notice, the teams were allowed to bring an extra floor stay to Canada.

They had already begun their journey to North America though, so there was suspicion as to how Mercedes managed to show up for practice with another stay installed, and Red Bull boss Christian Horner made a sly insinuation that there was inside information being fed to them.

Whether anyone suspects Rao of feeding anything to her former employer is a different matter, and Binotto hopes that, while he is not entirely comfortable, Rao will carry out her duties professionally.

“Certainly, it’s a concern,” he told

“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 of that.

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“It’s a concern, but only a concern. I think it’s down to them to make sure that there will be no conflicts of interest at all, to [do things] properly, and it’s down to the president to ensure it, and they will do it.

“As Ferrari it’s a concern, but I am sure through the behaviours, through the decisions, they will prove it’s a wrong concern.”

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The Italian enjoyed a healthy relationship with Rao’s predecessor, but accepts that new FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem must build his own team to have around him if he is to succeed having taken over from Jean Todt at the end of 2021.

“I think we enjoyed certainly the collaboration with Peter,” Binotto explained.

“He was always very transparent, fair with the teams, and rational. He’s got certainly a lot of competencies and experience. 

“But, there is a reorganisation within the FIA, and it’s down to the new president to decide his own team. 

“We fully respect the choices, we are accepting and, looking at the future, trying to make sure that we’re properly collaborating, and making sure that the FIA becomes stronger and stronger.”

Binotto recently affirmed that the directive introduced by the FIA in Montreal is not “applicable,” because their purpose is to “clarify” regulations, not influence them.