For the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, motorsport’s international governing body, its response to the poorly-managed, championship-deciding Formula 1 finale in Abu Dhabi was truly unprecedented. Within days of being elected FIA President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem launched the kind of investigation usually reserved for a fatal incident at a Grand Prix. Now, Max Verstappen wants that level of supervision to become standard for the world championship.
During its pre-race coverage of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, British broadcaster Sky Sports F1 had a sit-down interview with the reigning world champion Max Verstappen. The topic of discussion quickly turned to the FIA’s reaction to the controversial conclusion of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. During which the Dutch driver said, “But also for me, these kind of investigations should happen every single year because I think as an organization, as a team, you always want to try and improve and do things better.” Verstappen also praised that the Abu Dhabi report was made available to the general public.
So far, Ben Sulayem’s presidency has focused on improving the transparency of FIA operations. A month before the report’s release, the FIA President directly addressed the public in a pre-recorded video statement. In the address, he succinctly stated the massive changes made to F1 race officiation before this season. More people likely watched the address across social media than ever went onto the FIA’s website to dig up a document to read through.
It would be a welcome change to see the FIA hold itself to account every year. Considering the implementation of the new supplemental Virtual Race Control room, it’s clear that Mohammed Ben Sulayem has the desire to make significant changes at the FIA and transform the body into a more responsible governing body. Only time will tell if the new President will keep up the pace of his first four months in office.