Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur believes that the controversy surrounding FIA President Mohammed bin Sulayem will calm down once the Formula 1 season begins. Sulayem has been at the center of a storm in recent weeks when he publicly fell out with Formula 1’s commercial rights holders.
His comments about what he saw as an “inflated” $20 billion price tag for the Formula 1 deal were not well received by Formula 1 after a report suggested that the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund was considering buying the racing series.
A letter sent by Formula 1’s legal department to the FIA President said it was completely wrong for the FIA to comment on commercial matters: “The FIA has given an unequivocal undertaking that it will not do anything that Possession that could affect the management and/or exploitation of these rights,” the letter reads.
“We believe that these comments, which were made through the official FIA President’s social media account, constitute an unacceptable interference with those rights.”
Bin Sulayem then became the focus of two other problems: a member of the House of Lords accused him of being “deeply rude and unprofessional”. Paul Scriven was one of 90 lawmakers who wrote to bin Sulayem last year to express concerns about the human rights situation in many Gulf countries where Formula 1 races.
He was deeply upset that the FIA President had not responded to them and also expressed concern about the impact of an FIA ban on drivers’ political statements.
“Why do you think you can ignore parliamentarians?” writes Scriven. “Do you think concerns about human rights and FIA policies should not be investigated? We have reached out to you to raise concerns which are in the public interest and we expect openness and transparency from the FIA.”
The Times newspaper then published archived comments from an old Sulayem website in which he made disparaging remarks about women. The FIA President had spoken out about things he didn’t like: “Women who think they are smarter than men are actually not.”
The FIA responded with a statement saying the old statements did not reflect Sulayem’s views. The spate of negative reports about bin Sulayem has led to suspicions that there may be factions within the FIA, either at the highest level or within the national clubs, that want to get rid of him.
Such a scenario could lead to political turbulence in the run-up to the new Formula 1 season. However, new Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur believes the only reason the Sulayem story has gotten so big is because nothing else happened – and that the focus will shift once action returns to the circuit.
“I’m convinced that once we get the cars out on the track, that story will disappear a little bit,” he says. “Certainly we will have discussions, but I hope that, as always, we can focus on the sporting side.”
The teams will test their new cars for the first time at the track in Bahrain on February 23rd, with the season starting a week later after three days of testing with the first round of the season on March 5th, also in Sachir.
This article was written by Jonathan Noble, co-author: Kevin Hermann
The original of this article “FIA President scandal – what are the consequences of misogynist statements?” comes from Motorsport-Total.com.