FIA won’t reverse Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s controversial new rule

In the wake of recent controversies, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has stepped away from F1 matters.

With the pressure building on FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem to resign from his role, the 61-year-old has decided to step back from day-to-day matters regarding Formula 1.

The president had landed himself in a lot of hot water recently for some of his controversial comments, ending with the re-emergence of sexist comments that he made over 20 years ago.

Ben Sulayem also overstepped his role as FIA president by commenting on the ‘inflated’ value of Formula 1 following Saudi Arabia’s $20bn bid to purchase the sport, much to the anger of current owners Liberty Media.

Finally, due to Ben Sulayem’s desire to expand the F1 grid and allow Andretti-Cadillac to join the sport, despite F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali’s persistent refusal to do so, the relationship between F1 and the FIA has become tense.

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Even though the FIA president has now decided to step away from F1 matters, there is still a rift between the sport’s governing body and its drivers, mainly as a result of the new rule surrounding political gestures.

As of this season, political, personal and religious gestures have been banned by the FIA, making them a punishable offence unless the FIA have previously given their approval.

This has sparked outrage in the paddock as the likes of Lewis Hamilton appear to have been silenced, having previously worn ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirts and worn rainbow helmet designs to protest against inequality.

It has been suggested that the FIA are trying to keep their host countries happy, with the likes of Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi not best pleased that the seven-time F1 champion was campaigning against the illegality of homosexuality in their country.

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Many F1 drivers such as Sergio Perez, Alex Albon and Valtteri Bottas have expressed their concern about this new rule, claiming that they would like some clarity on the situation before the season starts in a couple of weeks.

The F1 drivers believe that they should be free to express how they feel, rather than being silenced by the FIA.

Despite Mohammed Ben Sulayem stepping back, it appears that the FIA will keep this rule in place heading into the 2023 season, leaving drivers anxious to see exactly how this rule will be enforced.