Home World FIA unable to escape scrutiny with accusations overshadowing season | Gilles Richards

FIA unable to escape scrutiny with accusations overshadowing season | Gilles Richards

0 comment
 FIA unable to escape scrutiny with accusations overshadowing season | Gilles Richards

Perhaps a sports governing body is best appreciated when it is seen and not heard, the quiet hand that steers the ship toward the approval of participants and fans, but the discontent, criticism, grievances of the public and open admissions of a lack of trust clearly spell trouble. In Formula 1 this week, they swept the paddock with disastrous abandon – F1’s regulator, the FIA, appears to have lost the locker room.

Heading into this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, the FIA ​​might have thought a relatively straightforward weekend in sunny Melbourne was in store. He may have anticipated that the announcement exonerating its president Mohammed Ben Sulayem for his alleged interference in two grands prix, but without giving any details of said investigation, its findings or conclusions would be subsumed in the controversy surrounding Christian Horner and Red Bull.

It was bad luck and, one could argue, it was judgment on all counts. Instead, the FIA ​​has been the target of a series of damning accusations as the embattled organization has subjected its every action, and even inaction, to intense scrutiny.

Just hours after Ben Sulayem’s innocence was announced on Wednesday, Susie Wolff, the chief executive of the all-female F1 Academy series, said she was filing a criminal complaint against the FIA ​​over its actions in opening an investigation on a conflict of interest. against her and her husband, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, in December last year. The allegations were found to be unsubstantiated and neither party had a case to answer.

Wolff was furious about the damage to her reputation and what she saw as bullying and misogynistic behavior. Worse still, once again the FIA ​​gave no explanation as to why it launched the investigation, which apparently appeared to have been prompted by a single unsubstantiated media report, or its findings.

She received support and sympathy from across the paddock and, in Australia, her husband succinctly summed up why it was important and, in doing so, delivered the latest news that has flooded the FIA ​​since Wednesday.

“What matters most to her is that we find out what happened and that people take responsibility and that things are not swept under the rug,” he said. “As a sport we have to do that across the board, whether it’s Susie’s or the other teams.”

The day after Wolff served notice of his legal action, Lewis Hamilton bluntly declared that he never had confidence in Ben Sulayem. Perhaps the most scathing rebuke of all was delivered by the sport’s greatest and most recognizable driver. He criticized the lack of accountability within the FIA ​​and the sport, pointing out that without it fans would lose confidence in the way the sport was run.

Susie Wolff has filed a criminal complaint against the FIA. Photography: Antonin Vincent/DPPI/Shutterstock

The seven-time champion’s words cannot be taken lightly and have been simmering, it seems, for a long time. In 2022, shortly after Ben Sulayem took over as FIA boss, Hamilton was the target of a crackdown on wearing jewelry in the car. At the time it seemed excessive and almost absurd, a butterfly on a wheel. Hamilton called it stupid, an opinion shared by most drivers and observers.

“If you think about the steps we’ve taken as a sport and the most important issues and causes we need to focus on, it’s such a small thing,” he said when confronting this subject to the Miami GP that year. .

Notably at the time he publicly stated that he thought he could work with Ben Sulayem, but he was apparently already extremely frustrated and his remarks in Melbourne suggest he was at best merely diplomatic at the time. Two years later, his patience is clearly running out.

ignore previous newsletter promotion

He wasn’t alone either. Friday, the blows kept coming. At the team bosses’ press conference, all but one of the questions concerned the FIA; its accountability, transparency, relevance and whether anyone could trust its processes dominated the debates.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown echoed what was becoming a tsunami of discontent. Regarding the FIA ​​which did its homework in its investigation of Ben Sulayem, he stressed that it had not even shown its work. “Nothing was explained to us, neither upstream nor downstream,” he declared.

“We live in 2024, not 1984, which means full transparency,” he added. “Everyone would like these different issues (to be resolved) to allow us to return to motorsport, but I think until all the unanswered questions are resolved, people will continue to ask questions.

All this pressure therefore fell directly on Ben Sulayem, whose presidency has already not lacked controversies and conflicts and whose position will have been called into doubt by the events of this weekend.

Yet by the end of the match on Friday, the FIA ​​had still made no comment on Wolff’s legal action, Hamilton’s remarks or criticism of its own investigation and the questions all three raised regarding a fundamental concern within the organization and organization. how it is managed. The silence of a manager, his face drawn and haggard, retreating to the dugout, his team parading in disdain as another vital six-pointer slipped away.

You may also like