Ferrari raise “concerns” as FIA makes hiring from Mercedes

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Ferrari have raised concerns over the FIA’s appointment of a former Mercedes executive to a senior position.

The motor sport governing body announced earlier this month Shaila-Ann Rao had been hired as an interim replacement for Peter Bayer, who was the secretary-general for sport and F1 executive director.

“We enjoyed the collaboration with Peter,” said Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto. “It was always very transparent, I think fair, between teams in the way and rational in the way he was moving on with the topics and the subject. He’s got certainly a lot of competencies and experience.”

Binotto supports new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s efforts to overhaul the governing body but is concerned by them hiring from a rival team.

“There is a new organisation, reorganisation within the FIA down to the new president to move on, to decide his own team and we fully respect the choices,” said Binotto. “We are accepting and even looking at the future trying to make sure that we are properly collaborating and I’m sure the FIA become stronger and stronger.

“On the concern of Shaila-Ann, yes, certainly it’s a concern. I think she is a great person, she’s got a lot of experience, she would certainly be capable of doing a good job. I’m pretty sure on that.

“It’s only a concern, I think it’s down to them to make sure that there will be no conflicts of interest at all, to behave properly, and it’s down to the president to ensure it. And I’ve got the trust they will do it.

“As Ferrari it’s a concern. I’m pretty sure that through the behaviours, through the decisions they will prove it’s a wrong concern.”

But Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff pointed out Rao joined Mercedes from the FIA just four years earlier.

“She was at the FIA before she joined us, she was chief executive officer of one of the largest sports agencies before.

“What the positive is, having Shaila-Ann in this position, is she’s one about governance and transparency. She’s a lawyer and I think this is something we’ve always criticised in the past that things weren’t always as transparent and as clear for the teams.

“I think this is one of the key topics that she will be trying to implement and that is good news for all of the teams.”

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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11 comments on “Ferrari raise “concerns” as FIA makes hiring from Mercedes”

  1. petebaldwin (@)
    11th June 2022, 14:05

    It should be of no concern. There are plenty of people working for the FIA who have previously worked for teams – Ross Brawn for example.

    1. @petebaldwin Ross Brawn works for Liberty Media. Jean Todt, however, of course worked for Ferrari.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        11th June 2022, 17:11

        Yeah good point – either way, Ross Brawn has enough authority to cause to cause major problems if he was acting unprofessionally and was favouring a team he used to work for.

        You have to trust people to behave professionally though – otherwise it’s guilty until proven innocent. If they act in a way that seems biased towards their former team, you do something about it but you can’t just assume the worst in everyone.

  2. I’m sure they were equally as concerned when Jean Todt was FIA President.

    1. @davids
      Jean Todt was sacked by Marchionne who was FIAT CEO – mother company of Ferrari at the time before the split – after winning both championships in 2007 because of his spending habits. He didn’t have any notion of budget respect even in those days of unlimited budget. Max Mosley who have been enjoying Bernie and Ferrari support throughout his entire presidency lost that support after his personal life went public. Mosley felt betrayed by both Ferrari and Bernie and decided to give his support in the FIA election to someone who is in direct conflict with both of them which is Jean Todt.

      If anything Todt has managed to do during his time in the FIA is to break that special relationship Ferrari was enjoying. First, he pushed for the 4-cylinder engine to be introduced which was in clear conflict with Ferrari’s interests. He only succumbed to the pressure made by both Ferrari and Mercedes for the introduction of the V6 PU when the VW decided not to commit to F1.

      Even after that, Ferrari lobbied hard to scrap the token system so they will catch up with Mercedes. He was against even discussing the idea and slammed them publicly. The system was scrapped in 2017 after everyone realized that Mercedes have actually hijacked F1. Moreover, the FIA was very reactive whenever rival teams raised suspicion about Ferrari car not complying with the regulations. Between 2017 and 2019 Ferrari were targeted by TD after TD. You can’t say the same about the other teams. For example, it took the FIA 2 years (2015-2017) to close the oil burn loophole.

      Even with regard to the engine settlement in 2019 and despite the fact that no evidence was found of Ferrari operating their PU beyond the rules (which was the case BTW). The FIA didn’t close the investigation and threatened to go for the harshest penalty possible if in a process Ferrari was found to be cheating. Jean Todt himself said in an interview to La Gazetta Dello Sport that he was behind Ferrari punishment.

      Jean Todt lately after he quit the FIA offered his services to Ferrari as a special advisor and John Elkann refused hiring him which speaks volume about his relationship with Ferrari.

      1. @tifoso1989 you really are desperate to paint Ferrari as being the wrong victim, whereas Mercedes has been distorted into some sort of Illuminati style monster in your imagination. Then again, given your past posting history, you have peddled some utter nonsense conspiracy theories on this site – perhaps it’d be better if you laid off the biased Italian press.

  3. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    11th June 2022, 14:10

    Didn’t LAurent Mekkies join from the FIA to Ferrari as well? Sure, it might be the other way around compared to from Merc to the FIA, but I’d be more worried about someone brining stuff TO a team.

    In the end, it’s a rather small world, so you can’t really get around moving from a place to one with different interests. I would however would’ve liked to see a forced year of absence from any motorsport-related job before joining the FIA in the same kind of position as coming from from Mercedes. But that’s just me.

  4. Shaila-Ann was Toto’s personal advisor and not a random Mercedes employee. Knowing the Megalomaniac nature of Wolff who wants to control everything and have previously managed to hijack F1. He was also running for the sport’s top job till he was vetoed by Ferrari.

    You don’t have to be a genius to realize that he is in desperate need of that political power inside the F1 institutions to lay down the road for him. He can’t compete on equal terms. Ferrari need to scrutinize everything she is doing and point out to any possible favour that she will present to Mercedes.

    1. @tifoso1989 but it was OK when you had Todt, the former head of Scuderia Ferrari, as the President of the FIA? Was it OK for Todt to also appoint former Ferrari staff to senior positions within the FIA, such as appointing Tombazis to run the FIA’s technical department for single seater race cars? Or having multiple former members of Ferrari’s senior management running the commercial operations of Formula 1?

      Could you explain why it is acceptable for Ferrari to have had so many former employees in senior positions within the governing and commercial bodies? Is the real reason you’re so upset because you wanted a former Ferrari employee to be given the position instead?

      1. anon,

        but it was OK when you had Todt, the former head of Scuderia Ferrari, as the President of the FIA?

        That’s a casual analysis. We can also say with that same logic that Ross Brawn who engineered Mercedes dominance is a Mercedes man inside F1 and has been serving Mercedes interests. But that’s not true because he quit Mercedes on bad terms and said that he had a bad relationship with Toto and he couldn’t trust him.

        Same goes for Jean Todt who has quit Ferrari on bad terms too. He was sacked by Marchionne when FIAT was still Ferrari’s mother company and the circumstances that led to his appointment as head of the FIA were completely hazardous. Mosley gave him his support in the FIA election otherwise he couldn’t have presented his candidacy because the latter wanted a personal vendetta against Ferrari and Bernie who turned their back on him after his private life scandal.

        The fact that John Elkann refused his return lately when he offered his services as a special advisor speaks volume about his relationship with Ferrari. Can you name a single favour Todt has made to Ferrari during his presidency ?
        Tombazis has also left Ferrari on bad term, he was sacked and was blamed for the team poor performances. Domenicali has also left on bad terms and didn’t have any connection with Ferrari before being appointed the F1 CEO. He was indeed the CEO of Lamborghini, a rival Ferrari company. Brawn was a Ferrari man a decade before joining F1.

        The appointment of Shaila-Ann Rao is suspicious to say the least given the history and the modus operandi of Toto Wolff. He was running for the F1 top job before being vetoed by Ferrari and in desperate need of more political power especially after the political defeat against Masi. He also have a history of forcing his employees into strict gardening leaves. Jock Clear for example resigned in 2014 and was only able to start working at Ferrari in 2016. Shaila-Ann, his special advisor has been able to join the FIA straightaway without observing the usual strict gardening leave. Isn’t that suspicious ?

  5. Given the size and interconnectedness of the F1 community, if you eliminated everyone with a possible conflict of interest, you wouldn’t have enough for one team, let alone ten or more.

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