Leaked letter reveals Mohammed Ben Sulayem has relinquished FIA control amid controversy

F1 owners Liberty Media recently threatened the FIA with legal action, following comments made by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

It has been revealed by Sportsmail that FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has handed over his hands-on control of Formula 1 to director of single-seater racing Nikolas Tombazis, as pressure continues to mount on the president’s shoulders.

It’s been a challenging start to his tenure as FIA president, with his approach and behaviour having been questioned by many within the paddock.

In the last few weeks alone, Ben Sulayem has infuriated the owners of F1, Liberty Media, has had sexist comments resurface, and has also publicly supported Andretti-Cadillac’s bid to join the sport.

Ben Sulayem’s approach to being the FIA president hasn’t gone down well so far with many of the teams, with the president being a regular figure on the podium, and is also often seen sitting with drivers on the grid.

READ: James Vowles’ Williams move accused of having a ‘Mercedes element’

With this in mind, he wrote a letter to the team principals on Monday afternoon, where he revealed that whilst he’ll remain as the FIA president, he won’t be the “day-to-day contact” for F1 matters.

According to Sportmail, Ben Sulayem’s letter read: “My stated objective was to be a non-executive president via the recruitment of a team of professional managers, which has now been largely completed.

“Therefore, going forward, your day-to-day contact for all matters on F1 will be with Nikolas (Tombazis, director of single-seater racing) and his team, while I will focus on strategic matters with my leadership team.”

There is no doubt that Ben Sulayem is under immense pressure to keep his role as the FIA president, with his resurfaced sexist comments having infuriated those around him.

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One of the resurfaced comments explained that the president did “not like women who think they are cleverer than men”.

The FIA immediately jumped to his defence and insisted that his former comments weren’t a reflection of what he believes.

Ben Sulayem also played an interesting role in the discussions that led to Red Bull’s budget cap penalty, with the president having been involved in the negotiations.

READ: ‘They’re all switching out’: Lewis Hamilton on Mercedes staff after James Vowles exit

News of the breach was, of course, leaked, with an FIA insider being most people’s guess as to how the rule break got out into the paddock.

The FIA said in a statement: “The president’s manifesto clearly set out this plan before he was elected – it pledged “the appointment of an FIA CEO to provide an integrated and aligned operation,” as well as to “introduce a revised governance framework” under “a leadership team focused on transparency, democracy, and growth.” These goals, as well as the announcement of the new structure of the single-seater department have been planned since the beginning of this presidency.

“The FIA president has a wide remit that covers the breadth of global motor sport and mobility, and now that the structural reorganisation in Formula One is complete this is a natural next step.”