The President of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile is a key figure in determining the fate of world motorsport at all levels: from Formula 1 to karting. In which way, the development or degradation of motorsport will depend greatly on the viewpoint, the ability to conduct business relations, the competence and the desire to be part of the FIA President’s motor sport. On the one hand, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who replaces Jean Todt at the helm, has sufficient experience. At the same time, there are factors that raise doubts among racing fans about the new FIA President.
The FIA presidents in the history of motorsport.
Every head of the Federation Internationale de l’automobile has left his mark on the history of motorsport. Baron Etienne van Zuylen van Nyevelt and the first FIA President AIACR organized the first ever motor race in 1895 – Paris-Bordeaux-Paris. Jean Marie Balestre was the “Mr Safety” of Formula 1. He is credited with having established special crash test requirements for Formula 1 cars in order to improve the safety of the sport.
Jean Todt, however, is without exaggeration the most talented head of the FIA. He has been awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor and a hundred awards. It is difficult to overestimate his contribution to safety, sports law and the development of world racing.
In the last 12 years, Jean Todt has been unsurpassed in superiority, it is hard to imagine anyone else in his position.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem is a very different person. He represents the interests of other countries, the interests to motor racing from the East.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s key figure in motorsport from the United Arab Emirates.
The new FIA President was born in 1961 in the United Arab Emirates and has an excellent education. He studied at the American University and the University of Ulster. He began his racing career as a driver from the Emirates and became a 14-time FIA World Rally Champion in the Middle East. That’s it.
Since becoming Vice President of the FIA and a member of the World Motorsport Council, he has been a frequent guest in private lounges of the Formula 1 Paddock Club.
Why do race fans doubt Mohammed Ben Sulayem?
Mohammed Ben Sulayem is a very different person, he is different from all the previous FIA presidents. He born in the United Arab Emirates and despite his education in the United States and Europe. But he still has his own point of view, based on the cultural particularities of the Emirates. What is wrong with that?
The case is that it could bring the Middle East’s added interest to world racing. In fact, Formula 1 calendar 2021 had four races in the Middle East: Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Many fans are sure that this is too much. At the same time, iconic European circuits have not received the attention they deserve. However, Mohammed Ben Sulayem has all the skills needed to bring order to motorsport – from Formula 1 to karting.
The influence of the Middle East.
As Consul of Motor Sport in the UAE, Mohammed Ben Sulayem has enormous connections that he has built up over many years in racing. But these connections and his contribution are also in the United Arab Emirates, where he has been awarded several titles.
Undoubtedly, it is hard to deny that Mohammad Ben Sulayem knows all the major authorities in world motor sport. Fabiana Exlestone’s appointment as FIA Vice President is a clear example of this.
Today, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are interested in motor sport and are ready to make new venues available. At the same time, it needs to preserve true traditions: amazing circuits such as the Nürburgring and teams that need support. Undoubtedly, the history of motorsport developments extends all over the world. However, according to the official F1 report, more than 50% of F1 fans come are from US and Europe. Today, manufacturers and constructors from all over the world are interested in participating at all levels of racing. It will take time, investment, expertise and exemplary leader to put everything in order, especially in the era of hybrids.
The motorsport is directly dependent on investment. However, any attempt to turn motorspot into a “business plan” will blow up the system that others have been building for many years.