FIA president calls out old regime for negligence in creating millions of debt
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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has placed pressure on his predecessors after revealing that the ‘negligence’ of the old regime led to the debt currently facing the governing body. Ben Sulayem won the presidential election just one week after the controversial championship finale saw Max Verstappen win the world title at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Ben Sulayem replaced Jean Todt to become the 10th president of the FIA in their history. Todt ran the governing body from 2009 to 2021 after previously serving as the CEO of Ferrari from 2004 to 2008.
The FIA is the global sporting authority for motorsport and represents over 100 million car owners in 200 countries around the world. Headed by the FIA President, its membership is chosen by the FIA General Assembly, which contains representatives from national automobile clubs throughout the world.
Ben Sulayem believes the financial restrictions the body faces due to poor governance in the past is the reason why the FIA cannot implement changes in the way they want going forwards. The 60-year-old revealed he has turned to consulting firms as well as accountancy companies to decide the best route.
“I asked the opinion of a global management consulting firm, McKenzie & Company,” Ben Sulayem told Grand Prix 247 when asked about the finances left to the FIA by Todt. “The finance side is weak.
“I don’t see anyone intended to misuse the budget. It was negligence.
“We have 23 million euros for our operation. I am confident that with the right team, right approach, the right plan and a beautiful federation, we will break even within less than two years.
“Deloitte and McKenzie are working on the audits to analyse and give us their thoughts. So, it is going well.
“But the challenges will never stop. In the first six months up to now, I would say it has been challenging.”
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Ben Sulayem hopes to see ‘good changes’ to F1 as he looks towards a healthier and more dynamic future even while the FIA is hamstrung by finances. Regardless, he will press ahead with alterations to re-invent the FIA.
“One of the things that the research showed is that FIA is ‘old’,” Ben Sulayem added. “When you say ‘old’, of course it is ‘old’ with 117 years of existence. But not old in personnel, ‘old’ in thinking.
“We can’t be ‘old’ in a dynamic sport. Look at all this technology, you have to keep up with it and to upgrade all the time.”
The 22-race F1 2022 campaign – which is expected to return to a record 23 races in the near future once a Russian Grand Prix replacement is found – continues with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku on June 12.
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