- The proposed introduction of an 11th F1 team has caused debate within the sport
- FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem approved Team Andretti’s application
- He revealed the infighting this caused and said his enemies tried to destroy him
Formula One ruler Mohammed Ben Sulayem claims his enemies tried to destroy him over the planned introduction of an 11th team – even as he mourned the death of his son.
The FIA President revealed the power struggles surrounding the General Motors-backed Andretti team’s application to compete from 2026.
Ben Sulayem opened an “expression of interest” process earlier this year and has since agreed to the American offer. But he faces continued hostility from Formula One owners Liberty Media, which is considering whether to approve Andretti’s introduction, and existing teams.
In the future, Liberty could be forced to increase the prize money that the teams would have to share.
“I went through hell,” said Ben Sulayem, who lost his 29-year-old son Saif in a traffic accident in Dubai in March. “They attacked me even when my son died.” They abused me to break me just because I made expressions of interest. We have a contract that calls for 12 teams, don’t forget that.
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem claims his enemies tried to destroy him over the planned introduction of an 11th team – even as he mourned the death of his son
“I’m like, ‘What did I do to get all this abuse?'” How can you turn down GM? For goodness sake, they are an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer).
“I’m optimistic they (Liberty) won’t say no.” It’s good for business. It’s good for motorsports. And if there is another reliable, worthy team that would like to be included, I will open a new expression of interest process.
“I was chosen to take care of the sport. I didn’t put anything in my bag. There are no shareholders. There is no board of directors to share profits. “My mission is different than theirs.”
Ben Sulayem did not provide details about who was behind the alleged attacks, but is believed to have been at least partly referring to media briefings. The FIA last week increased maximum fines for drivers from 250,000 euros (£218,000) to 1 million euros (£870,000). It is the first hike in 12 years.
“The old regulations dated back to Jurassic Park,” Ben Sulayem said. “We don’t want to impose a million.” To avoid it: just stick to the rules.
The American racing team Andretti received approval from the FIA to join as an F1 team (pictured: owner Michael Andretti with Bin Sulayem before the 2022 Miami Grand Prix)