Formula 1 (F1) has come to clandestine blows with its governing body, the FIA following comments made by its head Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
Tensions between the two sides, which were already simmering due to FIA’s backing of Andretti’s bid to join the F1 grid, finally reached the threshold after Ben Sulayem shared a multi-part statement on his social media in which he appeared to respond to a news report claiming Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund had considered trying to buy F1 for around $20billion.
In his tweets, he referred to it as an “alleged inflated price tag” and “advised” any potential bidder for F1 to do so with “a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money”.
His statements were seen as an attempt to undermine the value of the commodity by Liberty Media, the current owners of F1.
In response, they have chosen to write a letter to the FIA Executive and the World Motor Sport Council through Sacha Woodward Hill and Renee Wilm, the chief legal officers of F1 and Liberty Media respectively.
The missive warns that “The FIA may be liable as a result” of any hits to its evaluation due to the president’s interfering “in an unacceptable manner”.
This saga is the latest development in the tussle for control between F1 and Mohammed Ben Sulayem ever since he took over FIA’s presidency 12 months ago. In those months, he introduced several new conduct policies which did not sit well with drivers and teams alike.
With either side not willing to back off, this episode may rumble on for a while.