FIA president cleared of wrongdoing after F1 interference investigation

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The FIA has cleared president Mohammed Ben Sulayem of “any wrongdoing” after an investigation into allegations of interference into the running of two events in the 2023 Formula 1 season.

As was initially reported by British outlet BBC, Ben Sulayem was accused by a whistleblower of attempting to unduly influence F1 processes on two separate occasions.

The complaint that was reported first related to last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Ben Sulayem alleged to have instructed race officials to overturn a podium-stripping penalty handed out to Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso.

The penalty in question was withdrawn following a right of review petition launched by Aston Martin, which included “video evidence of seven different instances” of other teams committing the same sort of alleged infraction without being penalised.

The other complaint related to the first running of F1’s new Las Vegas GP, with the allegation being that Ben Sulayem instructed for the new track not to be homologated for racing.

The claims were investigated by the FIA Compliance Department, whose report was then reviewed by the FIA Ethics Committee.

And the FIA said the Ethics Committee was “unanimous” in declaring a lack of “evidence to substantiate allegations of interference of any kind”.

The FIA described the investigation that transpired as “robust and wide-ranging” and “independent”, and said it spanned 30 days and included interviews with 11 witnesses.

It said “strong evidence beyond any reasonable doubt” was presented to the Ethics Committee to support clearing Ben Sulayem – whose “complete cooperation, transparency and compliance throughout the process was greatly appreciated”.

Ben Sulayem was elected as FIA president on a four-year term in December 2021, replacing the long-serving Jean Todt.

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