Mohammed Ben Sulayem to be sacked with replacement being prepared

Mohammed Ben Sulayem replaced Jean Todt as FIA president at the end of 2021.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is reportedly treading on incredibly thin ice, with the president currently being involved in a heated disagreement with the bosses of Formula 1.

It’s been a challenging week or so for Ben Sulayem, with the president having infuriated the owners of Formula 1, Liberty Media.

Since taking charge of the FIA at the start of last year, Ben Sulayem has often taken to social media to share his thoughts and opinions, with the most recent having deeply upset Liberty Media.

It was revealed by Bloomberg last week that Liberty Media rejected a $20 billion offer to sell Formula 1’s commercial rights to the Saudi Arabia Investment Fund, with the American company having only bought the sport in 2017 for $4.6 billion.

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Remarkably, Ben Sulayem stated that the $20 billion price tag was “inflated”, resulting in an instant and furious response by Liberty Media.

In outrage of the president’s words, F1 bosses slammed Ben Sulayem’s “unacceptable” comments and went as far as suggesting that the governing body could be liable for damages, given the harm Ben Sulayem’s comments could do to the company.

A letter to the FIA president from Liberty Media bosses read: “Any individual or organisation commenting on the value of a listed entity or its subsidiaries, especially claiming or implying possession of inside knowledge while doing so, risks causing substantial damage to the shareholders and investors of that entity, not to mention potential exposure to serious regulatory consequences.

“To the degree that these comments damage the value of Liberty Media Corporation, the FIA may be liable as a result.”

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F1 bosses also chirped in to confirm that Liberty Media had the “exclusive right” to the sport and its “commercial rights”, something Ben Sulayem hit back on.

“The championship is ours. We have only rented it out,” Ben Sulayem responded.

“So far there are only rumours about a possible sale. But the FIA should have a say and be able to offer advice.”

The incident is simply the latest in a growing list of issues causing disruption and unrest between F1 and the FIA, with the duo’s relationship hanging on by a thread.

Ben Sulayem’s public backing of Andretti-Cadillac’s 2026 entry has also caused unhappiness and frustration amongst the sport’s bosses, whilst the president has now been caught up in a completely separate incident.

The FIA president was involved in a sexism row over the weekend after posts from 20 years ago resurfaced online, with Ben Sulayem having reportedly said that he didn’t like women who believed that they were “smarter than men”.

The governing body immediately jumped in to defend Ben Sulayem and hailed his “strong record on promoting women and equality”.

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An FIA statement read: “The remarks in this archived website from 2001 do not reflect the FIA president’s beliefs. He has a strong record on promoting women and equality in sport, which he is happy to be judged on. It was a central part of his manifesto and actions taken this year and the many years he served as FIA vice president for sport prove this.”

With everything that has happened, it’s been reported by Germany’s Sport1 that Liberty Media are pushing for the president to be sacked, with a replacement having already been identified.

Reportedly, former Benetton and British American Racing (BAR) team principal and former Motorsport UK chairman and Prodrive chief David Richards is already being prepared to replace Ben Sulayem, should Liberty Media be able to prove the FIA president’s wrongdoing.