Ben Sulayem: F1 belongs to the FIA and has only been rented out

By Sports Desk January 26, 2023

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem made it clear that Formula One's governing body has a say on who controls the series' commercial rights.

The civil war between the FIA and F1 took another twist this week after Ben Sulayem expressed concern about reports that Saudi Arabia is interested in buying the sport for a mammoth $20billion (£16.15bn) fee.

F1 responded fiercely, insisting that owners Liberty Media has the "exclusive right" to "exploit the commercial rights".

Ben Sulayem is not backing down, however, with his belief that the FIA still has a decisive say on the matter.

"The championship is ours. We have only rented it out," he said at the Monte Carlo rally, per Auto Motor und Sport.

"So far there are only rumours about a possible sale. But the FIA should have a say and be able to offer advice."

Two decades ago, a 100-year lease deal was agreed between the FIA and former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone for a reported fee of $300m (£242m) – a figure significantly lower than the motorsport's current value.

Despite that, it is reported that a 'Don King clause' hands the FIA veto power over any sale.

Ben Sulayem has regularly been at loggerheads with F1 since taking charge of the FIA in December 2021, recently publicly backing Andretti's proposed entry alongside General Motors and adopting a tough stance against drivers wearing jewellery during the 2022 season.

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    1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 19:52.862
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    7. Miguel Oliveira (RNF) +2.940
    8. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +5.595
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    3. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 7
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    5. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) 5
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