FIA’s interim secretary general Rao to step down

2022 F1 season

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The FIA has confirmed its secretary general Shaila-Ann Rao, who joined the governing body from Mercedes on an interim basis earlier this year, is to leave following the end of the Formula 1 season.

Rao was the FIA’s legal director from 2016 to 2018 before moving to Mercedes, where she worked as the their general counsel and then special advisor to team principal Toto Wolff.

Her return to the FIA in June this year therefore prompted rival teams including Mercedes to express “concerns” about potential conflicts of interest.

During her time in the role, Rao was involved in the FIA’s ruling that Red Bull had failed to comply with the F1 budget cap during the 2021 season. The team was fined $7 million and had its aerodynamic testing allocation for next year cut. Rao delivered the news of Red Bull’s penalty to team principal Christian Horner at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Rao was hired to replace outgoing secretary general Peter Bayer. The FIA said in a statement she “successfully managed this transition period, providing valuable support and assistance to the FIA president and the organisation during this period which is now coming to an end”.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem thanked Rao for “her invaluable contribution in her role as interim secretary general for motor sport during an important transitional phase for the organisation.

“In particular, Shaila-Ann has provided me with great support in respect to F1, always acting with professionalism and integrity.”

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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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29 comments on “FIA’s interim secretary general Rao to step down”

  1. It’s shameful that such an impartial (floor stays in Canada, budget cap) woman has to leave her position. Huge loss for FIA.

  2. How to confirm who Toto’s FIA mole was without actually confirming who his mole was, I guess.

  3. Usually you leave when they find replacement. I do not see it being mentioned. Is this because the journalist didnt ask further or because the FIA thought it be best to make her leave without having a replacement yet. Rather pivotal given the hint of fraud surrounding this story.

    1. It could also just be Mayrton, that she had a contract until the end of the year and they would have either had to confirm her for another year or thank her for her work and say goodbye.

      1. It could also just be Mayrton, that she had a contract until the end of the year and they would have either had to confirm her for another year or thank her for her work and say goodbye.

        Indeed so, time limited contracts are incredibly common, and of course now that the RBR poison to her retention has taken effect, the RBR preferred candidate can move in.

  4. Well, we all have an idea what the reason is and people already think she did some proper damage to the sport.. This strengthens that believe even more. It seems pretty obvious what is happening here, this is not just a planned exit. Sacrified to protect position of Toto? We will never know for sure..

    1. BBC is reporting that leaving is her decision because the job was not what she expected it to be.

      1. First of all, BBC and their chief editor Andrew Benson are not the best F1 reliable sources. An experienced executive like Rao has certainly worked in close collaboration with the FIA and probably has enough contacts from inside the organization to be informed with regard to the job description of the secretary of the sport.

        I don’t simply buy that. Probably some lobbying from both Ferrari and RBR has been going for a while or something even bigger came from Liberty. From their point of view the TD039 has killed the show… Just my two cents, as a biased tifoso…

        1. @tifoso1989 Benson is reliably a puppet.

      2. Oh, the BBC says this. What a surprise.

  5. Nah time was up, or by mutual agreement or more time with family, or new challenge,. or or or

  6. What? She is most notably involved in the in-season rule scandal. Mercedes was the only team ready for both rule changes. The first was about forcing the use of extra floor stays and the 2nd was regarding the anti porpoising/force increased rise height edict, where merc had a new floor ready for it.

    1. @peartree – Yep, just a few too many coincidences.

      1. I mean she couldn’t have played the game in the worst imaginable way, ended up being the sacrifitial pawn, she did her job and just had to go, everyone connected the dots right away, still things kept leaking out, culimanting with the budget cap saga whereby mercedes spread rumours that RB breached the cap, you could only point the finger at her. After spotting 6 different rear wings, 2 complete aero packages and I have no idea how many floors, how is mercedes on budget? I’m sure this time next year we won’t be talking about mercedes 2022 budget.

  7. It’s time for her to go back to her home team. Job well done i think.

  8. I suspect that she will return to Mercedes or one of their “friend” companies as a reward for her services. Toto has a lot of connections outside of F1 too, he won’t struggle to place her elsewhere.

  9. Wolff asked for Masi’s head, and he got it.
    Horner asked for Rao’s head, and he got it.
    Tough job to work for FIA these days…

  10. Shaila-Ann Rao leaving is a pretty odd move, even if it is said she was there on an ‘interim’ basis. Both SGs are appointed by the FIA President, and are some of the most important people on his team.

    This back and forth between the FIA, an F1 team, and back to the FIA etc. is not a good thing, even if it is understandable that the FIA wants their Sports people to have some working knowledge of their most important racing series.

    In the highly contentious world of F1, a person joining the FIA from a team is always going to be a lightning rod for criticism and conspiracy theories. It definitely doesn’t help that the team in question repeatedly seems to be aware of privileged information before it’s published by the FIA. Even if there are other or better explanations for that – after all, lots of people work at the FIA and rumours tend to spread in the paddock – it’s not a good look.

    1. Surprisingly little attention is given to this topic, both by this site and in the comments. Had this been in any way related to RedBull we would now be looking at the 12th article with over 120 comments. But it doesnt fit the UK narrative, now does it?

      1. The silence is just .. deafening ..

      2. Surprisingly little attention is given to this topic, both by this site and in the comments. Had this been in any way related to RedBull we would now be looking at the 12th article with over 120 comments. But it doesnt fit the UK narrative, now does it?

        Feel free to suggest that the good lady did something bad or illegal, but do bear in mind that currently your comments and a number of others here are only a gnat’s family jewels away from good evidence in a libel case if she could be bothered allowing a legal team to separate you from your meagre bank account contents and any property you have.

        1. Nobody here is straight out claiming she leaked to mercedes multiple times. And by doing so she would have damaged the sport .
          There is only a notion that some events this year seems to be connected with her early departure.

        2. Ah the Law of Torts.
          Do go on, enlighten us please.
          I’m sure we (the great unwashed) of meagre bank accounts and little or no real assets will benefit greatly.
          Then of course our old friend vicarious liability can ensure we are all free from intimidation , implied threats and fear-mongering.
          Just an afterthought is your first sentence an encouragement to have others put themselves in such a dangerous predicament?

        3. Its the same as with Michael Masi people claiming bias wiithout any evidence. She did her job just like Masi did so no need to start conspiracy theories. But sometimes these theories get a lot of attention and support

      3. I’m on your side. !!! Accidentally hit report instead of reply.Sorry.
        Despite what I have written below about
        the missing section of the conference, that changes nothing. I have my view and that additional info didn’t change my view.

      4. The I am on your side,,,,,,was a reply to Mayrton

  11. .
    I find it a little disturbing that this part of the conference was omitted from this article

    “I’ll be very honest with you, and I’ll defend my opinion, but when it comes to Shaila-Ann, there were accusations that she is mainly a supporter of Mercedes,” he told the media in Abu Dhabi. “But actually, when the penalties were there with both teams, she said that’s a bit harsh.

    “I looked and said: ‘My god, there is someone who is accusing her of being with Mercedes, and she’s saying to me that it’s harsh on Red Bull’.” he added.

    Asked about her future at the FIA – remember, this was six days ago – he said: “Her position is interim secretary general, and the interim, what does interim mean? Shaila-Ann has been supportive a lot to me. You see her intelligence when it comes to setting big decisions for me.

    1. “http://”>

  12. Did you know that no-one is ever caught selling BS at the FIA?

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