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Mohammed Ben Sulayem | FIA president

FIA President under investigation for alleged race interference

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem is under investigation for allegedly attempting to intervene in the results of the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Ben Sulayem Qatar
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FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem is reportedly under investigation for allegedly intervening in the results of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last year, regarding Fernando Alonso's penalty.

According to BBC Sport, a whistleblower has informed the governing body that the FIA President got involved to have Alonso's time penalty overturned, impacting the podium places. RacingNews365 sources are aware of the report.

Alonso had provisionally finished third at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, only for him to be given a 10-second time penalty post-race, as work was conducted on his car prior to the completion of a previous five-second time penalty.

This demoted the two-time World Champion from third to fourth; however, he was promoted back into third post-race as a result of the penalty being overturned.

The whistleblower has alleged that Ben Sulayem called the FIA's vice-president for sport for the Middle East and North Africa region – Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamas bin Isa Al Khalifa – who was present in an official role in Jeddah. According to the whistleblower, Ben Sulayem called to stress that Alonso's penalty should be overturned.

BBC Sport has seen the claim in a report by an FIA compliance officer to its ethics committee. In the report written by compliance officer Paolo Basarri, the whistleblower reported that Ben Sulayem "pretended the stewards to overturn their decision to issue" the 10-second time penalty to Alonso.

"Pretendere" means expect or require in Italian. A report is expected to be issued by the ethics committee in four to six weeks.

A source with good knowledge of the situation told RacingNews365 that many in the sport were aware of what unfolded at the time, but it took a whistleblower to come forward for an investigation to commence.

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