FIA appoints F1’s Nielsen to sporting director role created after Abu Dhabi row

2023 F1 season

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The FIA has completed the restructuring of its Formula 1 governance team which began following the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The governing body of motorsport has hired Steve Nielsen from F1 to take over the new sporting director role which was announced in March last year. The FIA created the position in response to the mishandling of the 2021 season finale by former race director Michael Masi.

The creation of the sporting director role was one of several changes made by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who won election five days after the 2021 season ended in acrimony. He also introduced a new Remote Operations Centre to assist the race control team and replaced Masi with a pair of race directors supported by a permanent senior advisor.

In the new role of F1 sporting director, Nielsen will be responsible for “overseeing all sporting matters including the ongoing development of Race Control and the Remote Operations Centre, as well as future updates to the sporting regulations,” the FIA said in a statement.

“I understand and appreciate the unique challenges that come with being the regulator,” said Nielsen. “Having worked closely with a number of people in the federation over the years, I’m looking forward to tackling those challenges that lie ahead with them.

“F1 is in a great place at the moment, and it’s our responsibility to ensure the future health of the sport that is at the heart of everything we do.”

He will report to the single-seater director, Nikolas Tombazis, who was previously the head of single-seater technical matters but will now cover a broader range of responsibilities. In addition to the new F1 sporting director, the technical, financial and strategy and operations directors will also report to Tombazis.

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Nielsen will report to Tombazis
Tim Goss, who was previously Tombazis’ deputy, will take up the technical director role and Federico Lodi has been named as financial director. Francois Sicard has taken up the new role of strategy and operations director which will involve long-term planning and administration of trackside activities.

The latest changes bring to an end what the FIA called a “transitional period” for its F1 departments.

“We have dedicated a lot of time and effort to making significant, informed changes to our F1 team to create the right structure with the right people to oversee the future regulation of the sport,” said Ben Sulayem.

“By developing and empowering people within our organisation, as well as bringing in expertise and experience from the outside, I am confident that we are in the best position possible to move forward together with our partners at FOM and the F1 teams.”

Nielsen’s departure from F1 leaves the series seeking replacements for two senior figures, as motorsport director Ross Brawn also stepped down at the end of last year. F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali thanked Nielsen “for his hard work and dedication over the past five years at F1”.

“He is a highly respected professional in our sport, and we fully support his move to the FIA. His skills and experience in F1 will assist the FIA in its ongoing efforts to improve their operations during race weekends.”

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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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3 comments on “FIA appoints F1’s Nielsen to sporting director role created after Abu Dhabi row”

  1. The Single Seat Director is not responsible for all single seater series? The usual FIA fog.

  2. So many directors, one of them with a non-disclosure agreement

  3. All this got me thinking. Did Charlie do his job too well?

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