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FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem faces investigation for alleged interference in Formula 1 race result

Posted : 04 March 2024

Motorsport's governing body, the FIA, is currently investigating Mohammed Ben Sulayem, its president, over allegations of interference in a Formula 1 race result. The investigation stems from a whistleblower's claim that Ben Sulayem intervened to overturn a penalty imposed on Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso during the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.


According to an FIA compliance officer's report submitted to the ethics committee, Ben Sulayem is accused of contacting Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamas bin Isa Al Khalifa, the FIA's vice-president for sport in the Middle East and North Africa, to express his desire for Alonso's penalty to be revoked. The whistleblower alleges that Ben Sulayem "pretended the stewards to overturn their decision" regarding the penalty.


The specific incident involved Alonso receiving a 10-second penalty for work done on his car while already serving a previous five-second penalty. Compliance officer Paolo Basarri's report indicates that Ben Sulayem sought to influence the decision to issue this penalty. The FIA's ethics committee is expected to release its report on the matter within four to six weeks.


The repercussions of the alleged intervention were significant, as the penalty had initially demoted Alonso from third to fourth place in the race results, placing him behind Red Bull drivers Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, as well as Mercedes' George Russell. The withdrawal of the penalty subsequently restored Alonso to a podium position. 


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