FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem will step back from the daily management of Formula One, his organisation confirmed on Wednesday, as tensions between the sport and its governing body soar following controversies involving him.
An FIA spokesman on Wednesday confirmed to AFP media reports that Ben Sulayem sent a letter to F1 teams announcing that he would give up the day-to-day management of the most prestigious motorsport.
The plan was “clearly stated” before his 2021 election in a manifesto where he promised to nominate an FIA director-general and introduce a “revised governance structure” under a team based on “transparency, democracy and growth”, the spokesman added.
The FIA last month unveiled an overhaul of its department responsible for single-seater racing under the leadership of Nikolas Tombazis, who is now in charge of its day-to-day control.
The announcement comes as the FIA and F1’s American owners Liberty Media are at loggerheads over a series of controversies involving Ben Sulayem.
The FIA president sparked a spat with Liberty Media last month when he described as “an inflated price tag” a report in Bloomberg that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund had tried and failed to buy F1 for $20 billion.
According to media reports, a letter by Liberty Media and F1 to the FIA said the remarks interfered in an “unacceptable” way with a commitment not to harm commercial rights.
The FIA has also sparked unease in some quarters by updating its rules to prevent “political, religious or personal” comments by F1 drivers without prior approval.
F1 boss Stefano Domenicali told British newspaper The Guardian on Tuesday that the sport would “never gag anyone”.
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