Formula 1

Mohammed Ben Sulayem to step down from F1 operations ahead of the 2023 season

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Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Big news has broken across the paddock in the last 24 hours. Mohammed Ben Sulayem has announced he will take a step back from everyday Formula 1 operations ahead of the 2023 season. With just two weeks to go until pre-season testing in Bahrain, the announcement comes at the same time as pre-season launches are well underway, with Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake the latest team to unveil its 2023 car.

It’s reported that single-seater boss Nikolas Tombazis will take over the F1 Operations role from the 2023 season, which is scheduled to kick off with the first Grand Prix in Bahrain.

The FIA stated that Sulayem’s decision to step down from the role had been on the cards for some time. The ex-head of the motorsports governing body is said to have sent a letter releasing him from the position, claiming his ‘aim to be a non-executive president via the recruitment of a team of professional managers, has now largely been completed.’

However, this move from Sulayem may have been influenced by recent events that seem to paint the 61-year-old in a less than favourable light. The dissatisfaction with his governance is widespread and vociferous. The recent ban on Formula 1 drivers making political statements at races, understood to have been led by Sulayem, has been previously attacked by teams and drivers who vehemently disagree with the ban.

CEO of Formula 1 Stefano Domenicali is amongst those that have spoken out on the recent ban, stating that he fully backed the driver’s right to express themselves in whatever way they choose. To add to the fire, an archived website belonging to the ex-president has also recently resurfaced, which clearly quoted the Emirati making misogynistic comments.

The most recent issues were followed by what seemed unnecessary enforcement of the rules surrounding jewellery worn by the drivers, a rule many drivers, most notably Lewis Hamilton chose to make a mockery of. The Mercedes driver directly chose to ignore the enforced rules, as the seven-time World Champion sported his entire jewellery and accessories collection during press conferences last year.

Although, despite the widespread contempt towards Sulayem’s governing, the FIA stated that past events and the seemingly draconian rules set by the ex-president has no correlation with him stepping back from the position and that Ben Sulayem’s decision was in line with his original plans when he first took on the position.

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