‘That’s never a good thing’: Ex-F1 driver slams the FIA after controversial comment

Liberty Media wrote a letter to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, after he questioned the value of an offer to buy Formula 1.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Blundell believes the FIA are “out of alignment” with the tremendous “growth” currently occurring at the pinnacle of motorsport, with communication between the sport and the governing body having reached an all-time low.

It’s been a testing few months for the FIA and its president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who’s currently not in the sport’s good books.

The FIA president has gone toe-to-toe with Formula 1 and its owners Liberty Media, with the American company having reportedly had enough of Ben Sulayem.

Liberty Media’s anger came as a result of Ben Sulayem labelling a rejected $20 billion offer to buy the sport as “inflated”, with the FIA president having effectively questioned the value of what the American company owns the rights to.

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Ben Sulayem angered Liberty Media to the point where they’ve reportedly found who they want to replace Ben Sulayem, according to German media.

The $20 billion offer for the sport by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, is arguably the value it is due to the “great job” that Liberty Media have done, with Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’ series having also done wonders for the sport.

Blundell believes that there’s currently just a “little bit of misalignment” between the sport and the governing body, who perhaps don’t realise just how remarkable a job Liberty Media have done.

“I would say Liberty have done a great job in growing Formula 1 globally, I think that’s very obvious for everyone to see,” Blundell told PlanetF1.com.

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“No doubt the teams are very, very happy with that side of things. Because it’s only maybe what, four years ago, that you were looking at several cars on the grid that were very plain with no commercial sponsors.

“Where we are today, I think everybody’s clamouring to get their name on the side of a Formula 1 car. So there’s huge growth in that area.

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“Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’ has been very key to that, and the North American market – that is exponentially growing. Where the FIA sits, and where it’s gone, for me, it’s been slightly out of alignment with the growth of the sport.

“But that’s just Formula 1, bearing in mind that the FIA sits across all of global motorsport on every level.

“But, ultimately, F1 is the pinnacle. So I just think there’s been a little bit of a misalignment. That’s never a good thing. It’s also quite difficult for people to understand when there’s, in effect, two sort of governing bodies, a sporting side and a technical and commercial side that are part of one sport.

“So the communication hasn’t been clear. We’ve had several areas of the FIA being key communicators with things that have gone on in F1 over the last sort of 18 months or so.”