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Formula One managing director Ross Brawn has shed light on his relationship with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem amid rumours that the two organisations could split. Lewis Hamilton’s jewellery row with the FIA is supposedly a prominent factor, and F1 are understandably keen not to sour relations with one of their biggest names.
The FIA are in a tough spot regarding Hamilton’s ongoing spat, as it will not reflect well on them if he chooses to boycott future races. A deadline for the Brit to remove piercings and jewellery has been set for the Monaco Grand Prix which is next on the calendar, but Hamilton has hinted that he is not prepared to play ball.
Take that in tandem with fallout over underwear regulations, Red Bull’s unhappiness over Aston Martin being cleared of copying their design and last year’s controversial title finale, it is clear that the FIA are facing pressure from all angles. BBC journalist Michael Benson claims that F1 are looking to distance themselves from the organisation, but Brawn provided an update that will be well received by Ben Sulayem.
“I think we have a very good symbiotic relationship,” he told the Evening Standard. “It’s a new president I think he’s finding his feet.
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“In finding his feet, he wants to understand how things are done, why they’re done and he wants to be part of the process so obviously with the past president we have a long relationship so it’s the process of establishing a relationship with a new president. I don’t see any issues long term. We just need to find our equilibrium.”
Ben Sulayem took the top FIA job in December last year, succeeding Jean Todt, and he has already had a series of tough calls to make. One big change is the introduction of Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas as joint race directors, taking over from lone ranger Michael Masi who faced a barrage of criticism for the way last season ended.
Despite Brawn claiming that things are working in the right direction, Benson told a different story on the F1 Chequered Flag podcast. “There’s widespread dissatisfaction amongst a lot of people in Formula 1 at the way FIA is conducting itself on a number of different levels,” he claimed.
“F1 are actively looking behind the scenes at ways they can sideline the FIA from the running of Formula 1 in any practical way. From the drivers’ point of view, it’s the jewellery ban and the underwear situation and some of the things that Alonso brought up, such as the policing of the sport and safety, so on and so forth.”
Hamilton is at odds with the FIA as he claims that not all of his jewellery and piercings can be immediately removed. The rules, banning drivers from certain items during competition, have been in place for years but only under Wittich’s watch have they been actively enforced.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel claims that the new approach is ‘targeting’ Hamilton. Nevertheless, Brawn feels confident that the Brit will not walk away from the sport as he chases an unprecedented eighth world title, which he may have to wait for based on Mercedes’ performance in 2022.
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