breaking news


today is Apr 01, 2023

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has handed the day-to-day running of Formula 1 over to Nikolas Tombazis, who was appointed as single-seater director last month.

The move follows recent criticism of Ben Sulayem’s management of the governing body’s most successful series. F1 wrote to Ben Sulayem last month to strongly object to comments he made on social media regarding F1’s financial value. Soon afterwards the FIA was forced to respond to sexist comments Ben Sulayem had made 20 years before he became president, after they resurfaced in a newspaper report.

An FIA spokesperson told RaceFans the transfer of operational responsibilities from Ben Sulayem to Tombazis was a planned development following its announcement last month that it had completed the introduction of its new management structure for F1.

Ben Sulayem, who was elected president of the FIA in December 2021, will continue to give input into top-level decision-making and strategy. The day-to-day operation of F1 will be handled by Tombazis and his team.

Tombazis joined the FIA in 2018 as its head of single-seater technical matters. Prior to that he was Ferrari’s chief designer. His team in charge of F1 include Steve Nielsen, who joined the FIA as sporting director last month, as well as directors responsible for technical, financial, strategic and operational matters.

“The president’s manifesto clearly set out this plan before he was elected,” said an FIA spokesperson. “It pledged ‘the appointment of an FIA CEO to provide an integrated and aligned operation,’ as well as to ‘introduce a revised governance framework’ under ‘a leadership team focused on transparency, democracy, and growth’.” Ben Sulayem appointed Natalie Robyn as the FIA’s CEO last September.

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Nielsen and Tombazis head up the FIA’s F1 team “These goals, as well as the announcement of the new structure of the Single-Seater Department, have been planned since the beginning of this presidency,” the spokesperson continued.

“The FIA president has a wide remit that covers the breadth of global motor sport and mobility, and now that the structural reorganisation in F1 is complete this is a natural next step.”

Last month Ben Sulayem indicated he intended to spend less time on F1 matters during his second year in charge of the FIA. “I should give more time to rallying,” said the former rally driver. “I have been dragged – and I’m being very straight and honest – I’ve been sucked into F1.”

Ben Sulayem’s election as president came as F1 was engulfed in controversy over the conclusion to the 2021 world championship in Abu Dhabi. Its investigation into the handling of the race and the consequences arising from it lasted well into 2022.

Other controversies which arose during 2022 included a long-running dispute over the wearing of jewellery by drivers, which brought Ben Sulayem into conflict with Lewis Hamilton and was regarded by some as being targeted against the seven-times world champion. Ben Sulayem was also involved in long-running negotiations over F1’s new engine rules for 2026 and Red Bull’s punishment for breaching the budget cap during the previous season.

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