Lewis Hamilton’s blistering three-word verdict on FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem | F1 | Sport

Ben Sulayem has endured a troubled tenure as FIA president since succeeding Jean Todt after the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but the past 12 months have been particularly testing for the 62-year-old. 

Ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton was asked whether Ben Sulayem still had his backing as president of F1’s governing body. The seven-time world champion responded bluntly: “He never has.”

On Wednesday, the FIA ethics committee cleared Ben Sulayem of any wrongdoing after he was placed under investigation due to whistleblower reports that suggested he had used his powers to attempt to influence the race result of the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as well as pushing officials not to certify the Las Vegas circuit ahead of its inaugural race.

While this verdict means that Ben Sulayem’s position is safe for now, he still faces notable opposition from within the paddock. Another blight on his record is the controversial investigation into F1 Academy director Susie Wolff, with the FIA probing into reported complaints of a ‘conflict of interests’ between herself and her husband Toto Wolff.

After that investigation was launched, Susie launched a strong response and all teams on the grid released statements distancing themselves from any concerns while backing the F1 Academy director. In advance of the Australian GP, she has now filed a criminal complaint against the FIA in the French courts.

This move picked up support from Hamilton, who added: “Firstly, I’m incredibly proud of Susie. She’s so brave. She stands for such great values. She’s such a leader. In a world where often people are silenced, for her to be standing up sends such a great message. 

“I love that she’s taking it out of this world, filing it from outside, because there is a real lack of accountability here within this sport, within the FIA. Things that are happening behind closed doors, there is no transparency, there is clearly no accountability. How can you trust the sport and what is happening here if you didn’t have that?”

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