FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has remarkably claimed that he’s being attacked, and that he knows “who attacks me”.
It’s been a troubling few months for the FIA president which has resulted in uncertainty over his leadership, especially after a third senior figure – Tim Goss – departed this week, as reported by BBC Sport.
The start of 2024 marks the start of Ben Sulayem’s third year in his role, with the first two having been full of controversy.
Ben Sulayem took on his role at the start of 2022 following the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where ex-race director Michael Masi was judged to have made a ‘human error’ which led to the rules being broken.
Bizarrely, the FIA never really explained what went wrong on that day and why Lewis Hamilton was robbed of an eighth Drivers’ Championship.
Then came Ben Sulayem’s squabble with drivers, in particular Hamilton, in regard to wearing jewellery.
This was followed by the FIA president publicly stating his support for Andretti in becoming an 11th team in F1.
His tenure has simply heightened tensions between F1 and the FIA, leading to rumours that the pinnacle of motorsport could attempt to break away from the governing body.
The recent allegations made towards F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff is perhaps the most controversial incident of Ben Sulayem’s reign though, as all 10 teams defended her against the FIA.
A lot has clearly gone on between the FIA and F1 since Ben Sulayem became FIA president, yet despite it all, it’s him who believes is being attacked.
“I know who attacks me. And they think I don’t know,” Ben Sulayem told Motorsport-Magazin.
“Do you really think I would be in this position if I had stupid people around me? Of course, my team is very smart. The paddock is a very small habitat, everybody knows everybody.
You know, whoever leaked or made up something about me, I know. And what do I do? I smile at them. I know who is behind it and then I smile at them.
“I only ask for sincerity. I am not interested in the share price or ticket sales. We just need honesty. That is my mission.”