FIA president clashes with F1 bosses

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem emphasised the sport’s commitment to diversity through the addition of another team on the grid.

In a move to bolster the Andretti–Cadillac Formula 1 bid, FIA Chief Mohammed Ben Sulayem has lent his unwavering support to the initiative, despite facing resistance from existing F1 teams.

 Ben Sulayem has argued that excluding Andretti–Cadillac from the sport would not only imperil their aspirations but also tarnish the FIA’s reputation.

The FIA recently granted approval for Andretti’s entry into the world of Formula 1. 

However, the team still faces the hurdle of securing approval from F1 Management, as well as persuading current teams that their introduction will not result in financial harm. 

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

This uphill battle has been further compounded by the vocal opposition of numerous team principals, including James Vowles of Williams, who launched a scathing attack on the proposition during the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix.

Addressing the financial implications of Andretti’s entry, Ben Sulayem countered, “Is the FIA benefiting financially from it? 

“No. But once we declared it, Liberty Media’s share price went up. 

“Where is the problem?” 

Article continues below

He continued, “We are under the EU rules on anti-competition. So if we do that, also, we are also jeopardising the integrity of the FIA.”

Ben Sulayem made it clear that the FIA’s stance remains impartial, stating, “If it’s Andretti or any other team, as long as they follow the due diligence and the process, we’re going to accept it. 

“It’s our duty, there are 12 teams allowed, and we treat them all the same.” 

He also emphasised the positive impact of Andretti’s partnership with GM, stating, “And when Andretti came with GM, of course it adds sustainability to motorsport and to the business.”

Amid concerns about power unit options, Ben Sulayem expressed confidence in Andretti’s future prospects, even in the face of opposition from established F1 teams. 

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and former strategist James Vowles of the Silver Arrows, along with Ferrari, have been cautious about the Andretti project.

However, F1 regulations dictate that if a team is left without a power unit, the supplier with the fewest affiliated teams in the paddock must step in.

Currently, Alpine holds that distinction, making them the frontrunners to supply Andretti. 

Ben Sulayem explained, “With the rules, nobody can say no to them. 

“If all the teams say no, it goes the FIA has the power to go on and say you take one, and I’m sure it is either Alpine – it’s not a secret – or Honda.”

READ: Lance Stroll warned his trainer is plotting ‘revenge’

Ben Sulayem remained optimistic about the possibility of GM providing a power unit, stating, “And one of them would win because that is the rules, but I am optimistic of GM coming with a power unit, I am very optimistic. 

“And we’re on the right track to having a power unit from Cadillac. 

“I think that is an achievement.”