FIA president could support plan for six sprint races next season

FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem reveals he could support plan for six sprint races in F1 next season… but denies claims he demanded more money to run extra events

  • The proposal was discussed at a meeting of the F1 Commission last month
  • The F1 Commission comprises the FIA, Formula One Group, and the 10 teams 
  • Ben Sulayem denies demanding more money in return for running extra events
  • He also insists he won’t be bullied into increasing sprint races from three to six 

FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem has revealed he may yet support an increase from three to six sprint races next season, but that he will not be bullied into doing so.

He was accused by opponents of being ‘greedy’ in demanding more money – which he denies – in return for running the extra events when the matter was discussed at a meeting of the F1 Commission last month.

The Commission comprises the governing FIA, commercial rights holders Formula One Group, and the 10 teams – the three wings of the sport. Each has 10 votes, and a super majority of 26 is required for the additional sprints to be adopted.

The F1 Commission will vote on an increase from three to six sprint races next season

Although the FIA blocked the plan at the meeting, Ben Sulayem told Sportsmail: ‘I support the races if it is the right thing to do. I’m not saying it is the wrong thing. I am saying there is time to decide. This is for 2023, not this season. Our house isn’t on fire.

‘We have what is called a democracy: Formula One (Group) have a vote, the teams have a vote, I have a vote. If you then say I can’t abstain or take time to study the proposals then you are not allowing me the freedom of democracy.’

Ben Sulayem said he did not know who accused him of ‘greed’ in a leak to the Press, but insisted: ‘I did not ask for more money but if I had I would have wanted to use it in the right way – to invest in the proper regulation of the sport.

‘We say Formula One is the pinnacle, and it is, so we at the FIA need the resources to govern the technical and financial side of a billion-dollar sport in a manner that respects that. We need the capability to observe those standards.

A super majority of 26 is required from 30 votes for the additional sprints to be adopted

‘So, specifically with regard to the sprints, I have to see whether my team on the ground can absorb the extra workload the races would entail.

‘After Abu Dhabi (when Lewis Hamilton controversially lost the title to Max Verstappen) people said we should change this or that.

‘So I don’t understand why we would suddenly ask the FIA team to do more. An incident happens in the future, such as one involving a safety car, and then what?

‘We need to look into all this and make a sensible decision. Let us run our operation. We are going to fix it.’

FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem says he will not be bullied into running more events

Although Formula One Group contribute $40million of their profits per year to the FIA, the organisation suffered an operating loss of $27.6m in 2021, during previous president Jean Todt’s final year in office.

Ben Sulayem has vowed to turn the financial situation around in two years and has started by taking an immediate 25 per cent cut on Todt’s presidential spending.

Meanwhile, Formula One Group have decided not to replace the axed Russian Grand Prix, originally scheduled for September. It means the world championship will be staged over 22 races.




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