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Mohammed ben Sulayem, FIA President, talks with George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes on the grid during an F1 Grand Prix. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Mohammed ben Sulayem, FIA President, talks with George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes on the grid during an F1 Grand Prix. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

FIA president denies Mercedes bias and F1 leak allegations

Formula 1's budget breaches have thrown the FIA's employees and methods in question

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FIA boss Mohammed ben Sulayem has denied accusations of a pro-Mercedes bias whilst responding to concerns about information leaks from the governing body.

Mohammed ben Sulayem, FIA President, responded to concerns of a pro-Mercedes bias. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mohammed ben Sulayem, FIA President, responded to concerns of a pro-Mercedes bias. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The recent information leaks which included details about Red Bull Racing’s budget cap breach and prompted Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to be “hugely worried” saw questions arise over the FIA’s running of Grand Prix racing.

“The accusations made in Singapore were extremely upsetting for every single member of staff, all our partners, everyone involved within Red Bull,” said Horner.

“Obviously, any form of leakage is hugely worrying. It’s something that we expect to be followed up.”

The leaks also saw Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko point out how “strange” it is that the cost cap process was being overseen by former Mercedes lawyer Shaila-Ann Rao.

Murky Merc connection?

After working as Mercedes’ legal advisor, Rao stepped over to the FIA, becoming the Interim FIA Secretary-General for Motor Sport. This caused worry for rival fans considering her links to the eight-time constructors’ champions.

However, Ben Sulayem dismissed notions that Rao had any preference for Mercedes whilst responding to speculation that she could step down and that a permanent replacement could be found.

“Her position is interim secretary general, and the interim, what does interim mean?” questioned Ben Sulayem.

“Shaila-Ann has been supportive a lot to me. You see her intelligence when it comes to setting big decisions for me.

“I’ll be very honest with you, and I’ll defend my opinion, but when it comes to Shaila-Ann, there were accusations that she is mainly a supporter of Mercedes.

“But actually, when the [cost cap] penalties were there with both teams, she said, ‘That’s a bit harsh’ from me.

“I looked and said, ‘My god, there is someone who is accusing her of being with Mercedes, and she’s saying to me that it’s harsh on Red Bull.’”

Unfortunately for F1 fans, the FIA President played down the information leaks, saying the release of information was something prevalent throughout Formula 1.

“On the leak, we were in Austria, we were having the F1 Commission meeting, and while we were talking about it, it was already in the news,” he said.

“It’s frustrating sometimes, because before you’ve finished your meeting, something has got out.”

The FIA will be hoping to finish off the 2022 season without another controversy this year as Formula 1 heads to the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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