Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Yas Marina, 2021

FIA’s integrity will remain intact in Abu Dhabi analysis outcome – Ben Sulayem

2022 F1 season

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The outcome of the FIA’s investigation into the handling of last year’s controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will not compromise the “integrity” of the governing body, its president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has vowed.

The FIA’s F1 Commission was due to be briefed yesterday on the inquiry into the controversial end to last season at Yas Marina two months ago.

The championship trophy changed hands on the final lap after race director Michael Masi arranged a late restart, seemingly in contravention of the rules. Max Verstappen subsequently overtook Lewis Hamilton to win the race and take the title.

However following yesterday’s commission meeting Ben Sulayem confirmed the inquiry into the race remains incomplete. “We agreed on certain things,” he told Sky. “The analysis is still going on, it will come soon but it was a good discussion there so we will see.”

Masi’s future in the role of race director has been the subject of considerable speculation. The role itself is also likely to be restructured as a result of the investigation.

But Ben Sulayem insisted the integrity of the sport’s governing body will be upheld following the inquiry.

“The information will be announced but the integrity of the FIA will always be intact,” he said. “I’m elected to do that but also to have fair motorsport, that’s my duty.

“It was a very good meeting. We went through a lot of important things for the season. I expect a good Formula 1 season to go ahead.”

“We can only go forward,” he added. “This is important for the FIA, for the integrity of the FIA and the sport. We can only improve the future.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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61 comments on “FIA’s integrity will remain intact in Abu Dhabi analysis outcome – Ben Sulayem”

  1. Ok, it’s nice to know that the integrity of FIA will always remain intact in upcoming FIA investigations. That can’t be the problem then.

    1. The norm for a Saudi, sadly. Not like they get much practice at home…

      1. @falken why bring his nationality in this subject ? do you think that if he was a British it would have improved things ?
        Just look at what’s happening in Canada and maybe you’ll rethink your narrative.

      2. He is not Saudi.
        He is Emirati. The United Arab Emirates…you know, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc?
        The Emirates are not and have never been part of Saudi Arabia.

        1. Still a dictatorship with a shame culture…

  2. Strange and confusing statement.

    Does he mean the integrity of the FIA can never be challenged? I hope not as that is one of the current problems, there is no way to hold the FIA and its staff accountable. They do not explain why they do things or make decisions, they will not accept challenges (when did the stewards last allow a significant appeal?) and if the FIA Court is involved that is packed with FIA members.

    The President must ensure the integrity of the FIA by dealing with FIA faults and errors, not by brushing them under a carpet of silent disdain.

    1. Strange and confusing statement.

      Completely. I have no idea what to make of this. It could indicate anything from a completely frank and honest investigation which accepts blame and puts in place strategies to prevent mistakes happening again to a whitewash which just covers up any mistakes, maintaining a facade of integrity. The fact that he has chosen to announce, specifically, that “the integrity of the FIA will always be intact” makes me very suspicious, though…

      1. They’re probably worried #teamlh will hurl abuse at masi when it’s revealed the real problem was Toto/Mercedes’ outsized influence delaying when cars unlapped themselves almost to the point of rigging the championship (even more so that in Bahrain/Silverstone). Would be really sad if masi was fired for doing the right thing

  3. I think we the public will be the judge of your integrity, thank you!

    1. +1

      At least in theory he can be voted out, unlike the government in his home country

  4. The integrity of the sport is really in doubt in many people they will saw what happened. They brought Netflix series to have new audience in the sport but what happened in Abu Dhabi changes much simple as that it is shame max is the fake champion who won’t be recognized by all .what happened will be remembered through the years no doubt about that . Max unworthy champion won’t be in out of this because his own team what they did to the sport in general

    1. Calling Max a fake champion is an insult.

      1. @Erik that would be a matter of opinion

        1. No a fact.
          He is champion.
          The way the win is portrait here is he won because of the masi action.
          That simply is not true.
          He won fair on track in a battle.
          Lewis still started the last lap leading and lost.
          Masi only created a race, the win was very deserved by max.
          Looking at the race it wad very unlucky for Lewis to see the SC.

          1. You are right that he is a champion, and I don’t agree with people calling him a fake champion. The stewards ruled that what Masi did complied with their interpretation of the regulations, because their interpretation of 15.3 is that he is allowed to ignore any rules related to the safety car at will. Whether it was right or wrong, that makes it within the rules and the result stands.

            However, to claim that Masi’s completely unprecedented actions didn’t deliver a near certainty of victory for Max is going too far. Once the call had been made to ignore all precedented procedures and make up something brand new which favoured one driver over all others, everybody knew that there was so little chance of Lewis maintaining his position that it was practically impossible. It can barely be called a race at that point. The result of that race, and therefore the championship, was handed to him by Masi’s decision.

          2. Also the fact that Hamilton was able to cut through lap 1 gaining a lot of seconds without a penalty is quite unprecedented. No wait, we have the precedent of him doing the same in Mexico 2016, he should have a special rule for lap 1 cuts

          3. Masi handed the WDC to Max. Max didnt earn it on track.

    2. Noframingplease (@)
      15th February 2022, 18:06

      In the daily mail they have a great commentzone for type’s who call him a fake champion. It seems what happened during the whole season doesn’t count for GB and lewis fans. The lobbying by toto for new rules and the hypocrite mindgames that followed do not count. It are the rules that must be followed….. when it suits you. That in that same race Lewis could make a big gap by not following the rules doesn’t count. Changing rules during the season? Doesn’t count. 29 times passing a track limit? Doesn’t count. Worrying about booing at lewis? Booing a certain Rosberg at silverstone doesn’t count. This is only a small top of the iceberg of hypocrite behaviour of a big part of the F1 fanbase.

  5. the integrity of the FIA will always be intact

    It’s a bit late for that.

    1. I would say the FIA has had very little integrity, it made the situation worse throughout the last season, and not quickly publishing a report about what went wrong is eroding it even more.
      I think it can only go up from here (but I am not sure it will).

  6. A completely meaningless statement!

    The Guardian is reporting that the FIA will not be releasing the details of its inquiry into the Abu Dhabi race:


    The FIA behaves like some autocratic state.

    1. Exactly, how can we, as fans, properly know whether the outcomes and actions of the FIA are appropriate following the inquiry if we don’t know what the inquiry says? For example, if the inquiry says that the rulebook is totally contradictory in all sorts of places, and that’s the cause of the problems in Abu Dhabi, then there should be a detailed review and re-write of the rulebook. But if the public action of the FIA is just to clarify how the safety car is meant to work and the role of the race director, than that’s an insufficient response.

    2. @sonnycrockett
      Nothing official has come from the relevant party, i.e., the FIA, so either pure speculation or fake news.
      I wouldn’t buy into something that doesn’t even feature any confirmative words.
      Of course, the findings will get released as the FIA themselves have stated so & even the president himself.

      1. @jerejj As the quote from the FIA implied, the findings haven’t in fact been released, just the actions. So we don’t know what the analysis said or why Masi has been replaced. Was it really Masi’s fault for the mess, or the vague rulebook and agreements from the teams to end races under a green flag and Masi is the scapegoat? We don’t know.

    3. A bit like Saudi Arabia eh?

  7. Good job, Ben!

    I saw lack of transparancy as a major weakness of Jean Todt. Todt only extended the culture of secrecy that flourished in the days when Ferrari and FIA were almost partners.

  8. FIAsco’s integrity was flushed down the toilet…

  9. petebaldwin (@)
    15th February 2022, 11:48

    “The information will be announced but the integrity of the FIA will always be intact,” he said. “I’m elected to do that but also to have fair motorsport, that’s my duty.

    Now that’s an interesting quote….

    The information will be announced but the integrity of the FIA must be intact….. So you’ll release what you can unless it makes the FIA look really bad?

    He’s basically admitting that whilst part of his job is to have fair motorsport, he can’t let that get in the way of making the FIA look good. He can’t admit to mistakes because that will damage the integrity of the FIA….?

    Very strange….

  10. Just by the small number of comments and I agree the FIA has just shot itself in the foot.

  11. I think this statement on FIA’s integrity indicates that FIA will not come out and just say sorry, we messed up. But we knew that already. After all, this was an investigation done by FIA into FIA’s own actions.

    What is more important is how they change the race director role going forward and how it will be better. That has got nothing to do with FIA’s integrity.

  12. Oh, well that makes everything OK then. As long as the FIA’s integrity remains intact, that’s the main thing…

  13. As soon as I read the headline my brain translated it as “whitewash report will be used to sweep any issues under the carpet, if we pretend they’re not there they can’t hurt us… La la la la laaaa”

  14. Last I looked, integrity was something of a bargain twixt observers and the proposed “integritist,” and not a trophy the “integritist” can award to itself. lol

  15. Slightly confusing statement, but I hope they do follow through with releasing the findings of the investigation properly. However, perhaps unusually, I agree that it’s important the integrity of the FIA remains intact. The FIA has to have some integrity to be able to function. But to me, integrity (defined by google as: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles) doesn’t mean not admitting to your mistakes: it means admitting when mistakes were made, and making changes to avoid them happening again. Call me an optimist (and I probably am), but that is what I hope comes out of this investigation.

    1. “Integrity” also has another meaning – broadly, the ability of something to hold itself together (e.g. structural integrity). So what the statement could mean is that the FIA is not, as a result of this report, going to propose reforms that would undermine its own authority and ability to govern the sport in the future. For example allowing third parties (such as Liberty, certain teams or aggrieved groups of fans) to call the shots in what should happen next.

      1. @red-andy As I said, I’m being a bit optimistic and hoping Ben Sulayem was trying to give a positive response. It is very much in my mind though that it could have a very different interpretations. But let a man dream!

        1. The main problem for me is the « admitting your mistakes ». F1 is the pinacles of Motorsport, it has a reputation, an image to keep intact. If they assume that Abu Dhabi was wrong they should then make a change in the result or publicly claim that the end of the race was « manipulated » which is frankly and understandably impossible. So then as a fan, how can I trust them to give equal chance for every drives to win a race and a championship ? I also deep inside me hope and expect that they’ll do the right things and be fully transparent.

    2. Integrity means: admitting when mistakes were made, correcting those mistakes and making changes to avoid them happening again.

  16. How can you keep something that you’ve never had?

    1. Ahah, that’s a good one cause it’s true!

  17. I’ve taken the comment regarding keeping integrity intact to mean that this is a priority outcome of the investigation, therefore if something has been done by the FIA last season that he undermined its integrity, they will look to learn from that in order to restore integrity.

    (Maybe I’m being optimistic in my interpretation…)

    1. May be the word integrity is used in different ways in arabic language and if may be, English isn’t his first language, his actual intent is getting lost in translation

      I’m trying to give Sulayem the benefit of doubt.

      1. I completely agree with this. It might just be a lingual thing for someone who’s first language isn’t English.

  18. I find it hard to believe that “the analysis is still going on.” They only need to consult the editorial staff of this newspaper, for one, if they want a proper analysis as they have done a very thorough job and it was finished long ago.

    However, the fact that they are still sitting on this thing strongly suggests that there will be a Mistakes Were Made result. They are just working out the details of the modern corporate management sorcery of exonerating everyone involved while finding serious problems.

    Also, “maintain the integrity” sounds like, we are about to white-wash this thing and give Masi a bonus and new company car. As others say, I will give him some slack on using English idiom, especially since the alternative obvious interpretation is, we are going to do a good job.

  19. Just like those Ferrari engines in 2019.

    If there’s nothing to hide, why don’t you show us?

  20. How many people will care when they’re not watching your racing series anymore if you whitewash that farcical finish. If there is no serious changes then there is literally no point watching F1 sports entertainment.

  21. If you wanted to come out with the shortest possible way of saying ‘we have no integrity,’ stating ‘our integrity will always be intact’ must be the best.

  22. What integrity? The integrity that says we enforce curb limits only if we feel like it, and change the rules in the middle of the race? The integrity that tells the drivers how forcing another driver off-track will be treated from event to event? The integrity that turns off the yellow flags while there’s a crashed car on the track? Or, the integrity that says “spectacle” outweighs “safety”, as demonstrated by the race director’s actions at Abu Dhabi?

    Or, ultimately, the fact that the FIA not only refuses to hold itself accountable for these inconsistencies, but re-interprets the rule book in a way so as to give the Race Director the authority to totally ignore all the safety car rules?

    The FIA’s integrity can’t be “intact”. If it exists at all, it’s broken. Old fans, new fans, indifferent fans– basically anyone that isn’t a Verstappen fan– thinks that the Abu Dhabi race and subsequent appeal was a shambolic farce. The FIA doesn’t need to “maintain” integrity– they need to establish that it exists at all.

    This sounds like the party line is still “we’d like to clear up the misunderstanding”– blaming the fans for being confused, rather than actually admitting the FIA got it wrong.

    1. True, they seem to be unable to admit when they’re wrong, and what impresses me is that verstappen\red bull AND hamilton\mercedes fans agree on one thing: the fia is making several mistakes.

  23. As someone who grew up in Asia, with English as a second language, I’m confident this is a language issue.

    His misuse of the word “integrity” (he either doesn’t truly understand it’s use in this context or meant the literal structural integrity of the FIA body) is something seen often in Asia / the Middle East.

    1. This may be why it is such a confusing statement to read for native English speakers. I will, therefore, give him the benefit of the doubt on this issue.

      The rest of what we have heard, though, still doesn’t fill me with confidence. It’s all been about the structure within race control, not the rules and procedures or the powers of the officials to ignore or change them.

    2. The only reason he used the word is that he knows what it means. He majored in political science at the American University in Washington DC and is very articulate! Political Science, notice…

  24. Merely holding an enquiry was the ancient political ploy and instantly even more a loss of integrity, because they knew exactly what happened and why: someone high up in F1 told Masi to change his decision! Everything since is pure integrity-free fakery.

    What Bin Sulayem means is that FIA integrity will be ‘intact’ in their report, by definition.

  25. Not compromising FIAs integrity? Lol, they should have told Masi before Abu Dhabi.

  26. With as much integrity as the Renault he once drove…

  27. Integrity is displayed by continually making the right and fair decision.
    Every time a wrong or unfair decision is made, integrity is eroded until it is collapses.
    The FIA president can claim that their integrity is high, but that doesn’t necessarily make it so in the eyes of the beholders. It is the FIA’s actions, not boastful words, that count.
    From recent events, I would say that the integrity of the FIA is questionable.

  28. The integrity was already lost. The back markers were removed between the first and second place cars but not between any other cars on the lead lap. If this was a track meet race, would anyone consider it to have been a fair race?

  29. So nothing changes. FIA does what they want, when they want it and how they want it. Integrity means no outside interference is allowed from the teams. A solution to any discussion on any decision.

  30. It’s been trending since the debacle, #F1xed its still relevant.

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