Mohammed Ben Sulayem opens up on Lewis Hamilton drama

Mohammed Ben Sulayem's first job as FIA president was to deal with the outcome of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has recently discussed the controversial 2021 season finale, where Michael Masi’s actions as race director determined who’d become World Champion.

At the time of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ben Sulayem had just won the election to take over from Jean Todt as FIA president.

Given what happened at the Yas Marina Circuit, Ben Sulayem had no time to celebrate, as he was immediately “overwhelmed with problems”.

People looked to him for answers as to what Masi did, which resulted in Max Verstappen claiming the title instead of Lewis Hamilton.

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

Masi, who left the FIA shortly after being dropped as F1 race director, failed to follow the rule book when ending a late Safety Car.

Had the rules been followed, Hamilton would’ve won the race and an elusive eighth Drivers’ Championship, instead of Verstappen winning the race and his first crown.

Masi’s actions threw Ben Sulayem straight into the firing line, with any time to celebrate winning the presidency having been taken from him.

Looking back on that evening in Abu Dhabi, Ben Sulayem admits that the race didn’t go completely to plan and that there is a “better structure” in place now than there as in 2021.

Article continues below

Because of this, he expects there to be “fewer problems” going forwards.

“I will never say that everything went well in this race [GP Abu Dhabi]. I always look at areas to improve,” Ben Sulayem said, as reported by GPFans.

“I thought to myself: wait a minute, let me first see what is going on. I just won the election. Let me enjoy that first!

“I hate being reactive. I always say: if you don’t plan, you fail. Have a plan for everything! I was overwhelmed with problems. I wondered what was going on.

READ: Christian Horner expecting rivals to copy them

“We have a better structure with the strengthening of the department in the single-seaters, so there will be fewer problems. But drivers will always demand things.”

Despite believing that the FIA’s structure is improving, the governing body has lost three high profile figures in the last few weeks, increasing the pressure on Ben Sulayem.

There is a growing divide between the FIA and F1, with rumours of a potentially break away having recently surfaced.