FIA boss in hot water over Las Vegas GP certification

First Grand Prix held in Sin City since 1982 faced severe backlash soon after being added to 2023 calendar.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is alleged to have told officials not to certify the track used for last year’s Las Vegas Formula One Grand Prix, the BBC reported on Tuesday citing a whistleblower.

No concerns

Ben Sulayem is said to have asked officials “to find some concerns to prevent the FIA from certifying the circuit before the weekend of the race”, according to an internal FIA report consulted by the BBC.

According to the whistleblower mentioned in the compliance report, “the purpose was to find fault with the track in order to withhold the licence”.

“Issues on the circuit were meant to be artificially identified regardless of their actual existence, with the ultimate goal of withholding the licence,” the source added.

ALSO READ: Verstappen battles through to win Las Vegas Grand Prix thriller

The report, from the FIA’s compliance officer to its ethics committee, adds officials were “unable to find any concerns with the circuit and therefore certified the circuit fit for the race”.

A spokesperson for motorsport’s governing body told AFP: “The FIA confirms that the Compliance Officer has received a report detailing potential allegations involving certain members of its governing bodies.

“The Compliance Department is assessing these concerns, as is common practice in these matters, to ensure that due process is meticulously followed,” they added.

It is unclear why the head of the FIA, who succeeded Jean Todt in December 2021, would have wanted to stop the race going ahead as planned.

Call for Alonso penalty scrap

The new Las Vegas Grand Prix, which came 41 years after the city last staged an F1 race, is a flagship event for the sport’s American owners Liberty Media. It is one of three held in the United States now, with races also in Austin and Miami.

According to the BBC, citing the same source, Ben Sulayem also requested officials scrap a penalty imposed on Fernando Alonso in Saudi Arabia last year. The accusation appears in the same compliance report.

ALSO READ: FIA boss Ben Sulayem steps back from sport’s handling

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