(Motorsport) Former rally driver Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been elected as the new FIA president, after collecting 61.62% of the votes at the FIA General Assembly. The UAE national is the first non-European president of motorsport’s world governing body and replaces Jean Todt who had served in the role for 12 years and three terms.
Having been born in Dubai, Mohammed Ben Sulayem is a 14 time Middle East rally champion and has also served as vice-president at the FIA along with being a member of the World Motor Sport Council. Speaking after being elected, the 60 year old said “I am very honored to have been elected FIA President at the conclusion of the Annual General Assembly in Paris today. I thank all the Member Clubs for their esteem and trust.
“I congratulate Graham for his campaign and his engagement to the Federation. I wish to express my infinite gratitude in the name of the FIA and that of its Members to Jean Todt for all that has been achieved over the past 12 years. I am committed to pursuing the important work and make motor sport and mobility take further steps forward."
Amongst his election promises during his four year term has been to put the best practice governance structures, double motorsport participation and strengthen diversity and inclusion. Ben Sulayem has his work cut out for him as he takes over the role just five days after the controversy surrounding the Abu Dhabi GP. Following the events of the weekend, the FIA promised Mercedes to conduct a full analysis and review to understand the events around the Safety Car in the final laps at the Yas Marina Circuit and implement learning into the 2022 season.
A statement released by the FIA said “The FIA's primary responsibility at any event is to ensure the safety of everyone involved and the integrity of the sport. The circumstances surrounding the use of the Safety Car following the incident of driver Nicholas Latifi, and the related communications between the FIA Race Direction team and the Formula 1 teams, have notably generated significant misunderstanding and reactions from Formula 1 teams, drivers and fans, an argument that is currently tarnishing the image of the Championship and the due celebration of the first Drivers' World Championship title won by Max Verstappen and the eighth consecutive Constructors' World Championship title won by Mercedes.
“Following the presentation of a report regarding the sequence of events that took place following the incident on Lap 53 of the Grand Prix and in a constant drive for improvement, the FIA President proposed to the World Motor Sport Council that a detailed analysis and clarification exercise for the future with all relevant parties will now take place.
"This matter will be discussed and addressed with all the teams and drivers to draw any lessons from this situation and clarity to be provided to the participants, media, and fans about the current regulations to preserve the competitive nature of our sport while ensuring the safety of the drivers and officials. It is not only Formula 1 that may benefit from this analysis, but also more generally all the other FIA circuit championships."