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17 June, 2024
 
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FIA President investigated for alleged manipulation in F1 Grand Prix

Whistleblower claims FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem intervened to overturn penalty for Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso at 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Whistleblower claims Ben Sulayem intervened to overturn penalty for Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, raising concerns about fairness in the race outcome.

In a dramatic turn of events, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the president of motorsport's governing body, the FIA, finds himself at the center of an investigation. A whistleblower has come forward, alleging that Ben Sulayem played a role in overturning a penalty imposed on Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso during the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The incident in question occurred when Alonso received an initial five-second penalty for positioning his car partially outside the starting box on the grid. This penalty was served during Alonso's first pit stop. However, the situation escalated when a subsequent 10-second penalty was issued because Aston Martin was deemed to have violated rules by working on Alonso's car.

According to a report by FIA compliance officer Paolo Basarri, the whistleblower claims that Ben Sulayem reached out to Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the FIA's vice president for sport for the Middle East and North Africa, who was present at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The allegation suggests that Ben Sulayem expressed his opinion that Alonso's penalty should be revoked.

The FIA and Ben Sulayem have yet to respond to requests for comment on these serious allegations. The ethics committee is expected to take four to six weeks to issue its report, providing a comprehensive examination of the claims.

This controversy adds to a series of challenges Ben Sulayem has faced since assuming the role of FIA president in December 2021. Previous issues include a compliance inquiry into Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and his wife Susie, which was swiftly withdrawn after objections from various parties in Formula 1.

The latest revelation underscores the growing concerns within the F1 community about Ben Sulayem's presidency, with calls from some quarters for his replacement. High-profile resignations from the FIA in recent months, including sporting director Steve Nielsen and women's commission head Deborah Mayer, have further fueled speculations about the governance of the sport.

As the investigation unfolds, the F1 community watches closely, mindful of the potential impact on the integrity and fairness of the competition. The outcome of the ethics committee's report may shape the future of motorsport leadership and governance.

Source: BBC

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