Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has described the FIA's appointment of a former advisor to Toto Wolff as "bloody dangerous".
Rao, previously Legal Director of the Mercedes F1 team and special advisor to Wolff, was recently confirmed as the interim replacement for Peter Bayer at the FIA, following his departure as the Secretary General for Sport and F1 Executive Director.
The move has prompted questions in the F1 paddock, with Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto expressing concerns and stressing that it's "down to [the FIA] to make sure that there will be no conflicts of interest at all".
Binotto's comments came during a Canadian Grand Prix weekend at which a new Technical Directive was issued in relation to porpoising, with teams allowed to run an extra floor stay to combat the effects – something Mercedes applied immediately.
Ecclestone: How can Rao do this job?
Given that Mercedes had a part ready to run, Ecclestone reckons they were tipped off about the development and described Rao's appointment as a risky move by the FIA.
"It's bloody dangerous," Ecclestone told the Daily Mail.
"Toto started all this nonsense about the cars
needing to change. She told them about the new directive, obviously. She worked
with Toto for two or three years."
He continued: "I wanted to get Luca di Montezemolo as chairman of the [F1] company when I was running things, but the teams went mad because he was Ferrari's man.
"It was seen as a conflict of interest, so how can she do this job?"
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What has Wolff said about the development?
Despite the fuss, Wolff is confident that Rao will have a positive impact at the FIA, where she previously worked as Legal Director between mid-2016 to the end of 2018.
"For Shaila-Ann, she was at the FIA before she joined us," he told media, including RacingNews365.com, in Montreal.
"She was Chief Executive Officer of one of the largest sports agencies before, and the positive of having Shaila-Ann in this position is she's one about governance and transparency. She's a lawyer.
"I think this is something we have always criticised in the past, that things weren't always as transparent and as clear for the teams.
"This is one of the key topics she will be trying to implement, and that is good news for all of the teams."
F1 Podcast: What's next in F1's porpoising row?
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth discuss the key topics from the Canadian Grand Prix, including the fierce debate over the FIA's intervention on porpoising.