Formula 1 clashes with FIA president in latest flare-up

Saudi Arabia reportedly had a $20bn bid to take over F1 rejected in recent weeks.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s Twitter activity has landed him in a lot of hot water in recent weeks, with the FIA president’s comments on multiple topics not being well received.

First, the 61-year-old went against F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali’s decision to reject Andretti-Cadillac’s bid to join the grid by tweeting that he was looking into expanding the size of the grid.

He then decided to comment on the value of F1, claiming that Saudi Arabia’s $20bn bid to take over the sport from Liberty Media, suggesting that this price tag is inflated.

“As the custodians of motorsport, the FIA, as a non-profit organisation, is cautious about alleged inflated price tags of $20bn being put on F1,” he posted on Twitter.

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“Any potential buyer is advised to apply common sense, consider the greater good of the sport and come with a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money.

“It is our duty to consider what the future impact will be for promoters in terms of increased hosting fees and other commercial costs (in the event of any such sale.”

The FIA president has been slammed for these comments, being told that as his role as a regulator of the sport, he has no business commenting on any financial issues in F1.

The current owners of Formula 1, Liberty Media, have now written an angry letter to the FIA, claiming that the governing body may be liable for any damage to Liberty Media’s value caused by Ben Sulayem’s comments.

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The letter also reminds the FIA that they have no involvement with the financial aspect of Formula 1, with F1 having “the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights in the FIA F1 World Championship.”

“The FIA has given unequivocal undertakings that it will not do anything to prejudice the ownership, management and/or exploitation of those rights,” the letter continues.

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“The circumstances in which the FIA would have any role in a change of control of the F1 group are very limited.

“Any suggestion or implication to the contrary, or that any potential purchaser of the F1 business is required to consult with the FIA, is wrong.”

The relationship between the FIA and F1 is currently fractured and with Ben Sulayem also in trouble for some re-emerging sexist comments, F1 are reportedly pushing to have the FIA president sacked.