Martin Brundle gives telling response to FIA president giving up role

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Martin Brundle was shocked by Mohammed ben Sulayem’s decision to step away from a key role at the FIA. The Sky Sports pundit simply tweeted “wow” at news of the Emirati’s decision to hand over the “day-to-day” running of F1.

The FIA has suggested the move was always on the cards as F1’s reorganisation was part of Ben Sulayem’s manifesto pledges. However, his decision to take a more backseat role comes at a time of rising tensions between the FIA and F1 bosses on the eve of the new campaign.

Sky Sports reporter Craig Slater reported that one senior figure had supported Ben Sulayem’s move to walk away. He also revealed that a number of key figures in the World Motor Sport Council had “offered their advice to Ben Sulayem in the past couple of weeks”.

He admitted these bosses had “voiced their concerns” over things he had said and the style of his leadership. It comes after Ben Sulayem has been embroiled in a string of controversies in recent weeks.

He clashed with team bosses over his plans to increase the number of constructors on the grid and his public backing for Andretti-Cadillac’s bid. The 61-year-old has also been accused of wanting to silence drivers over the FIA’s plan to stop protests and campaigns ahead of races in 2023.

Ben Sulayem wound up F1 chiefs after he claimed a potential £16billion ($20bn) Saudi Arabian takeover bid was “inflated”. Ben Sulayem’s shake-up comes after reports that F1 owners, Liberty Media, were looking to replace him.

They had supposedly lined up former Motorsport UK boss David Richards to take over as president.

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FIA head of single-seaters, Nikolas Tombazis, will now run F1 with Ben Sulayem more focussed on long-term strategy. However, it is believed the 61-year-old president will still be the face of the organisation and attend races this season.

On announcing the management changes, Ben Sulayem said: “We have dedicated a lot of time and effort to making significant, informed changes to our Formula One team to create the right structure with the right people to oversee the future regulation of the sport.

“By developing and empowering people within our organisation, as well as bringing in expertise and experience from the outside, I am confident that we are in the best position possible to move forward together with our partners at FOM and the Formula One teams.”

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