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FIA Las Vegas Controversy

Ben Sulayem’s “No Certify” Order for Vegas Track

05/03/2024

Amidst F1’s latest turmoil, revelations expose FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s contentious stance on the Las Vegas circuit certification.

F1 is currently experiencing a particularly turbulent moment with new revelations from BBC Sport earlier today about the president of the FIA!

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, head of the governing body, reportedly requested authorities not to certify the Las Vegas circuit for its race last year.

FIA Whistleblower Revelation

The complaint comes from the same whistleblower who accused Ben Sulayem of allegedly asking stewards to overturn a penalty against Fernando Alonso in Saudi Arabia last year (information released yesterday can be read here).

The whistleblower claims they were asked, “at the behest of the FIA president,” to find a way not to recognize the circuit as safe for racing.

The allegation is contained in a report by the FIA’s compliance officer to its ethics committee.

An FIA spokesperson stated, “From a sports and safety perspective, the Las Vegas circuit’s approval followed FIA protocol in terms of inspection and certification.”

“If you recall, there was a delay in making the track available for inspection due to ongoing construction work by the local organizer.”

The report quotes the whistleblower, stating they were contacted by their manager, “who, at the request of the FIA president, asked them to find certain concerns to prevent the FIA from certifying the circuit before the race weekend.”

The compliance report quotes the whistleblower as saying that “the goal was to find faults with the track in order to deny the license.”

“Asked to be more specific, the whistleblower stated that the issues with the circuit were supposed to be artificially identified regardless of their actual existence, with the ultimate aim of withdrawing the license.”

FIA Certification Clash

The whistleblower stated they tasked an official with this duty and named two other officials present in the room at that time.

The report adds that officials could not find an issue with the circuit and therefore certified it fit for racing.

However, BBC Sport reports that other officials present at the time had a different recollection of events.

The reason behind Ben Sulayem’s desire for FIA officials to refuse certification of the Las Vegas track remains unclear, but it likely points to the simmering internal war between the FIA and FOM.

Las Vegas, the penultimate race of last season, was a climax of two years of tension between Liberty Media and the FIA, during which Ben Sulayem repeatedly sought to extract more money from F1 for the FIA.

When approached by BBC, an F1 spokesperson declined to comment.

FIA Las Vegas Controversy f1 2024. FIA Las Vegas Controversy f1 2024.

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