According to a report by Luke Smith at Motorsport, the FIA have decided to move Mohammed Ben Sulayem away from the day-to-day running of F1. According to Luke, the FIA says this was always the plan, hence the restructuring plans that were announced last month and the appointment of a CEO.
The FIA told Mr. Smith:
“The President’s manifesto clearly set out this plan before he was elected,” an FIA spokesperson said
“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.’
“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 FIA President has a wide remit that covers the breadth of global motor sport and mobility, and now that the structural reorganisation in Formula 1 is complete this is a natural next step.”
You could certainly give the FIA the benefit of the doubt and assume they had this planned all along but this comment sounds like something MBS would write if I’m honest after watching his actions at the prize giving gala.
Clearly this statement is trying very hard to convince Luke that this was always the plan and it has nothing to do with his old website and misogynist comments on it, the endorsement of Andretti/Cadillac racing, the clampdown on drivers speaking out, jewelry gate, launching a new team application process, continuing officiating issues on race weekends, the confrontation at the prize gala over the confusion about Max’s world tile drive or the public comment about a Saudi Arabian offer to purchase F1 for $20bn which he said was way over-valued.
The tension has been building with MBS since he was elected and I reckoned it was heading toward a vote of no confidence but if he wants to remain the FIA president, then sitting him in the corner while Nikolas Tombazis takes over the operation might be the best move.
There may have been some soul-searching going on and riding out the remainder of his presidency behind the scenes may be best for his future aspirations beyond the FIA too. The bigger question is will Nikolas continue to try and press MBS’s initiatives like the new team process, driver voices, or jewelry etc? Can F1 work with Tombazis in a more amenable manner?
Time will tell but perhaps the man we’ve come to call, “Eddie Everywhere” will not be seen micromanaging the driver weight scales after each race, hustling up to every podium and finding every opportunity to be in just about every camera shot over a race weekend.