F1 team boss claims Mohammed ben Sulayem ‘has to go’ as pressure rises

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Mohammed ben Sulayem has “got to go” after a string of controversies on the eve of the new season, according to an F1 team boss. It comes as tensions continue to rise between F1 and the FIA with just weeks to go before the new season starts in Bahrain.

Ben Sulayem has been involved in a string of concerning issues in recent weeks as he tightens his grip on the sport. First, there was a fracas with Liberty Media after he claimed a potential £16billion ($20bn) Saudi Arabian takeover bid was “inflated”.

Sexist comments made over two decades ago have also emerged, while he has also been accused of silencing drivers after the FIA opted to ban political statements ahead of races. A team boss told the BBC: “Everyone thinks he’s got to go. That is definitely the general view.”

Another senior source admitted there had been “widespread disgust” over Ben Sulayem’s actions in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, a different senior figure claimed Ben Sulayem should be “back-pedalling” after the sexist comments emerged. The FIA boss suggested he did not like women who thought they were smarter than men in a post on his website back in 2001.

The source added: “Those kind of comments bring down CEOs every day. What he really should be doing is back-pedalling and apologising. ‘I made those comments 21 years ago. I regret them,’ … whatever he wants to say.”

The new sentiments on Ben Sulayem’s position comes just days after German site Sport1 suggested Liberty Media was looking to force a change of leader. German media claims F1 bosses have apparently already lined up a replacement with former Prodrive and Motorsport UK boss David Richards waiting in the wings.

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Sky Sports F1 reporter Craig Slater also claimed team principals were not satisfied with Ben Sulayem’s role. He explained: “People are still telling me they have issues with the kind of personal style of leadership Mohammed ben Sulayem has at the FIA

“These are the high-ranking individuals at a number of Formula One teams. So let’s see how that develops. There is still this friction, maybe Mohammed ben Sulayem seems to be gesturing one way and Formula One and the drivers to an extent in some areas are pulling in another direction.

“And that will have to be resolved in the short term for the sport to function properly.”

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