Dubai, United Arab Emirates: FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has said his stance on the health and safety of Formula 1 drivers is part of a clear vision for the federation and the future of motorsport, which he will support with decisive action.
From next weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, new measures will be put in place to address the physical effect on drivers of the aerodynamic bouncing of F1 cars known as “porpoising”.
Ben Sulayem has implemented a revised technical guideline covering the measurement and monitoring of vertical forces acting on cars after extensive consultation with F1 teams, drivers and his own FIA technical and medical staff.
His handling of the issue has been acclaimed by international media. This follows his decision earlier in the season to enforce a long-standing rule prohibiting riders from wearing jewelry while competing, to protect them in the event of an accident.
“This is not just the way forward for driver health and safety in F1 – it is the direction the FIA must take to ensure a better future for motorsport as a whole,” he said. declared.
“We have a responsibility to do what is in the best interests of the sport, and I will work closely with all of our key stakeholders to seek their input on all key decisions.
“But I won’t back down from any big problem. I will confront them, discuss with my own team, make the right decisions and support them with decisive actions.
Ben Sulayem, who took over as FIA president last December, has a comprehensive strategy to double global motorsport participation within four years, and his actions have been applauded by F1 journalists in particular.
He places great importance on local and regional motorsport development, as well as diversity initiatives, and wants to ensure that the FIA championships leave a legacy wherever they compete.
There are challenges at every turn, but he faces them with conviction. After 100 days in office, Ben Sulayem has written to the presidents of member clubs to say that the operating losses will completely overwhelm the resources of the FIA over the next five years if they continue.
“We have to make tough decisions about our portfolio and how the organization is structured and operates,” he said. “Together we can only make the sport better, and to make the sport better, we all have to be together.
“There is a long way to go, and we have to deliver for the next generation. This means we need to update our rules accordingly, not just for F1, but for motorsport as a whole.”
Ben Sulayem’s desire to move the FIA forward with strong and decisive leadership also applies to the federation’s role and responsibilities in tourism, mobility and road safety.
In order to ensure the continuity of the FIA’s initiatives, he ordered the recruitment of a full-time CEO to help drive the federation’s approach in the years to come.
He also believes that intensive training is essential to ensure regular follow-up of highly qualified people who can share responsibilities in key areas across the FIA.
This approach began with the appointment of two F1 race directors on a rotational basis, which Ben Sulayem says is just the start. Likewise, he wants the virtual race control he instituted to trickle down to other racing series.
When F1 proposed to move from three to six sprint races for next year, Ben Sulayem demanded further details on the financial and operational implications on host clubs and officials.
“Many race officials and marshals are members of the club, and we have a duty of care to them,” he said. “I didn’t say more sprint races. I left the door open, but only if we understand the implications. I owe it to the clubs.
He believes, meanwhile, that expanding the scope of the FIA University, which previously focused solely on mobility, will crucially give more people the opportunity for career opportunities in motorsport.
“University now includes sports, and I wish it included engineering as well,” he said. “Not everyone will be a Formula 1 or WRC champion. But there are people who can be involved in the motorsport community when it comes to education and engineering.
“We have to help those who have the talent, but don’t have the opportunity right now. This is where we need to go in the future.