Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024

Allegations against Ben Sulayem was an attack on the FIA, say member clubs

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A group of FIA member clubs have given their support to the president of the governing body, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, following his investigation by the Ethics Committee last month.

Ben Sulayem was cleared following claims he attempted to interfere in a stewards decision at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and over the certification of the Las Vegas Strip Circuit last November.

He received strong backed in a letter from member clubs representing 27 countries in North and South Americas, published on the FIA’s website. It noted the Ethics Committee found Ben Sulayem was “absolved of the unfounded accusations” levelled against him and “acted honourably, transparently and independently.”

The letter claims “accusations of impropriety and unethical practices propagated by some members of the print and digital media were intended for the sole purpose of causing harm to the FIA and its leadership, particularly the president.” It accused those who raised the allegations against him of acting “for their own self-interest.”

“We will recommend that the FIA initiate legal action against those who, without cause, slander the FIA and its leadership,” it added.

The letter was signed by clubs and federations representing Colombia, Canada, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, Guatemala, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Chile, Belize, Paraguay, Honduras, Argentina, El Salvador, Bolivia, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Guyana, Antigua and Trinidad and Tobago. Fabiana Ecclestone, the FIA’s vice-president of sports for South America and wife of former Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, is also among its signatories.

Following the announcement by the Ethics Committee, F1 Academy CEO Susie Wolff announced she is bringing legal action against the FIA in Paris over its handling of an Ethics Committee investigation involving her last year.

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Letter from FIA Member Clubs and Sport Federations of the Americas

FIA Member Clubs and Sport Federations of America express:

That the FIA Ethics Committee, composed of external and independent members, has unanimously issued the report, in which they declare Mr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the FIA, is absolved of the unfounded accusations of interfering in the Formula 1 events held in Saudi Arabia and Las Vegas, in 2023.

That the resolution of the Ethics Committee ratifies that the President of the FIA, Mr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, acted honourably, transparently and independently.

That accusations of impropriety and unethical practices propagated by some members of the print and digital media were intended for the sole purpose of causing harm to the FIA and its leadership, particularly the President.

That the selection of the FIA President is enshrined in the FIA Statutes and is the sole purview of its voting members and is not impacted by those from outside the organization who attempt, for their own self-interest, to intervene.

That we will recommend that the FIA initiate legal action against those who, without cause, slander the FIA and its leadership.

We endorse and ratify our vote of confidence in support of Mr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, for his stewardship of the FIA and his progress to fulfilling his commitment to transform the FIA in an ethical and transparent manner in order to better serve its members.

David McLaughlin, Bahamas Motorsport Association
Ronald Crean, Auto Sport D’Haiti
Stephen Gunter, Jamaica Millennium Motoring Club
Mahendra Bodhoo, Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club
Selwyn Persad, Trinidad and Tobago Automobile Association
Carlo Falcone, Antigua Pro Racing Ltd.
Francois Dumontier, Canada Sports Development Group
Alvaro Lacayo, Club Automovilistico de Nicaragua
Luis Burgos, Federacion de Automovilismo de Puerto Rico
Eric Dobarganes, Federacion de Automovilismo y Kartismo de Cuba
Alvaro Oliver, Automovil Club Dominicano
Mauricio Melo, Federacion Chilena de Automovilismo Deportivo
Victor Murga, Belize Automobile Club
Hugo Mersan, Touring y Automovil Club Paraguayo
Sebastien Pastor, Asociacion Hondurena de Automovilismo
Jose Abreu, Federacion Dominicana de Automovilismo Inc.
Jorge Rosales, Autornovil Club de Argentina
Alejandro Quintana, Automovil Club de Chile
Francisco Hernandez, Automovil Club de El Salvador
Gaston Montellano,Automovil Club Boliviano
Humberto Kennedy, Automovel Clube Brasileiro
Jane Scaletta, Cayman Motoring Federation
Ricardo Morales Rubio, Automovil Club de Colombia
Frank Fotia, Canadian Automobile Association
Gorki Obando Utreras, Automovil Club del Ecuador
Fabiana Ecclestone, VP of South America for Sports
Daniel Coen, Automovil Club de Costa Rica
Ivan Dibos, Touring y Automovil Club del Peru
Dante Pescetto, ASAI Panama
Pedro Cofino, Automovil Club de Guatemala
Jorge Tomasi, Automovil Club del Uruguay
Jorge Abed, OMDAI Mexico
Enzo Spano, Touring y Automovil Club de Venezuela
Giovanni Guerra, Confederacao Brasileira de Automobilismo

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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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15 comments on “Allegations against Ben Sulayem was an attack on the FIA, say member clubs”

  1. Haha, they’re having a laugh!

    If they’re trying to make the FIA look corrupt, this is exactly how to go about it. I wonder what Sulayem offered these clubs in return for signing this letter.

    1. The FIA president is elected by the member organizations. There is no need for unfounded bribery claims. It might not be to the liking of the people at FOM, but Ben Sulayem is a popular president.

      Liberty’s latest spokesman-with-F1-creds proclaiming that the Concorde Agreement is going to sail through a renewal could be in for quite a rude awakening. Especially if they keep this up. It’s pretty clear what ‘those from outside the organization who attempt, for their own self-interest, to intervene’ is referring to. It’s not the friendly folks at IMSA.

      1. You’re seeing the extent of his popularity right here, there’s a lot of orgs who did not put their name to that dribble.

        1. South America, islands in that region, and Canada.

          Why are the signatories on this letter so concentrated from that region and nowhere else? Seems a little odd to me.

          1. @gdog Organisations like the FIA are built on the efforts of persuaders. Maybe a particularly good one loyal to Ben Sulayman works in that area and contacted their friends (in which case Ben might not even have known this was afoot, in order to convince others to sign it).

    2. I wonder how much the $ the MBS is throwing and the notoriously corrupt nature of the FIA reps from small countries (some big too) has to do with this “message of support.”

  2. They want to get rid of Sulayem because he’s standing up to defend our beloved sport, which the Americans are tearing down brick by brick. By having brought wokeism to F1, having more and more races at awful tracks at the cost of reference circuits, commercialisation of this “thing” as entertainment rather than a sport (at the cost of both sportive aspects AND safety), changing formats that didn’t need changing into ridiculous formats that change weekend-by-weekend. And worst of all I find Liberty Media keeping out promising new competitors that would bring enormous sportive value to F1, have the green light from the FIA but are not welcomed due to greediness.

    Sulayem is fighting against just that. And that’s why they don’t like him. History has shown how Americans treat Arabs that don’t move the way Americans wish they do.

    1. @spafrancorchamps Apart from the issue of new competitors (and encouraging conservative politics, the opposite of the ones the FIA claims to stand for in its regulations), from what I’ve seen Sulayman is outright encouraging everything you mentioned.

  3. With a number of people being investigated due to complaints, even vexatious ones, why was the Susie investigation canned? It’s not nice to have people make up stuff about you, but surely once you are exonerated, that should be that… unless you’re Horner or Ben Sulayem. While they were all subject to differing investigations, it would be nice to think that their treatment in the media would be “innocent until proven guilty” and “equal treatment under the law” rather than “if we don’t like you, you’re guilty and if we do you’re innocent, no matter what the evidence is”.

    1. Because it was especially vexatious and the F1 paddock knew it?

    2. An Sionnach, the investigation was not “canned”, but it was concluded in hours because the “evidence” was so utterly flimsy – the original magazine made some fairly obvious mistakes in the original article – that the claims were proven false pretty much immediately.

      The owner of that particular magazine has openly admitted during some libel trials that they sometimes publish stories with zero evidence for any of the claims they were making, and this case was one such instance.

      You talk about “it would be nice to think that their treatment in the media would be “innocent until proven guilty” and “equal treatment under the law” rather than “if we don’t like you, you’re guilty and if we do you’re innocent, no matter what the evidence is”.”. Right now, your own behaviour falls into the latter category by continuing to attack the Wolff’s for claims that were proven false and come from a publication that libels everyone.

      Indeed, that magazine has also been stirring things up against Horner as well – are you going to also start attacking Horner because of that magazine?

  4. RandomMallard
    4th April 2024, 0:22

    It certainly feels like the FIA-FOM background dispute likely has a part in this, and it feels like it’s only a matter of time until it erupts into open warfare. As MichaelN has said, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the next time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal…

  5. Never cry wolff.

  6. Joe Saward pretty much echoed this sentiment on Missed Apex – The FIA and it’s club system is a walled off members club who all vote for each other and mark their own homework. It has no place in a modern world…

  7. That accusations of impropriety and unethical practices propagated by some members of the print and digital media were intended for the sole purpose of causing harm to the FIA and its leadership, particularly the President.

    That the selection of the FIA President….. ….. is not impacted by those from outside the organization who attempt, for their own self-interest, to intervene.

    I am glad this is being explicitly stated as this is a worrying symptom in the world of F1.
    Same can be said for desperately trying to keep the Horner narrative alive. It is as repugnant as it is worrisome

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