The future of FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been thrown into doubt, after an anonymous Formula 1 team principal revealed that “everyone thinks he’s got to go”.
It’s been a turbulent and controversial couple of weeks for Ben Sulayem, who has recently infuriated Formula 1 teams and the sport’s bosses, following comments he made on social media.
In the last few weeks, the FIA president has publicly supported Andretti-Cadillac’s bid to enter F1 in 2026 and labelled Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund’s rejected $20 billion offer to buy the sport as “inflated”.
His comments made Liberty Media furious, who labelled them as “unacceptable”, with the FIA president having effectively questioned the value of what the American company hold the “exclusive rights” to.
To add to the brewing tension between the FIA and F1, sexist comments made by the FIA president over 20 years ago recently resurfaced; however, the governing body immediately jumped to his defence.
“Everyone thinks he’s got to go,” an unnamed F1 team principal told the BBC.
“That is definitely the general view.”
Ben Sulayem’s sexist comments in particular have resulted in “widespread disgust” in the paddock, a senior F1 source told the BBC.
“Those kind of comments bring down CEOs every day,” the source added.
“What he really should be doing is back-pedalling and apologising – ‘I made those comments 21 years ago. I regret them,’ … whatever he wants to say.”
“What will be interesting will be does he change his game at all? If he makes one more mis-step, I don’t know how he survives,” questioned another ‘insider’ of the pinnacle of motorsport.
Another said: “[This] is going to be pretty interesting – even the dynamic between [F1 president] Stefano [Domenicali] and Mohammed. I get the sense they will come in not aligned.”
What Ben Sulayem does or says next could determine whether he’ll see out the rest of the year as FIA president, let alone the rest of his tenure.
He’s certainly caused plenty of controversy since replacing Jean Todt in December 2021, with his recent sexist comments seemingly being the latest in a growing line of issues.
“Motorsport should be an environment where everyone can participate, spectate, or volunteer their time in an inclusive environment that is safe, fair and fun,” Motorsport UK, an FIA representative, told the BBC.
“There is a great deal more to be done in changing the culture within the sport to ensure that motorsport is more representative of society’s demographics and champions best behaviours. For any queries or comments on the FIA, please speak directly to their media office.”