While Lewis Hamilton must wait until 2025 to race for Ferrari, British teenager Ollie Bearman will make his Formula One debut for the team at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend.

With Carlos Sainz sidelined with appendicitis, the 18-year-old Bearman will step up from his role as Ferrari reserve driver in Jeddah.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at five of the most notable Britons to formerly race for the Maranello marque.

John Surtees

Starts: 37
Wins: 5

Surtees is the subject of a pub quiz question to this day as he remains the only man to win world championships on both two and four wheels.

His F1 title came during a four-year stint at Ferrari, where he won the championship in 1964.

More success probably would have followed had he not quit the team after just two races of the 1966 season following a public spat resulting from his omission from Ferrari’s team for the Le Mans 24-hour race.

Eddie Irvine

Starts: 65
Wins: 4

Ferrari’s hopes of a first drivers’ championship in two decades had seemingly been resting solely on the shoulders of Michael Schumacher.

That all changed when he broke his leg in a crash at Silverstone in 1999, jettisoning Northern Ireland’s Irvine into a title showdown with the McLaren of Mika Hakkinen.

Having joined Ferrari in 1996, Irvine was very much the number two in the team, although victories in Australia, Austria, Germany and Malaysia saw the championship race go down to the wire but – even with Schumacher back from injury and playing a supporting role, he fell short by two points and quit for Jaguar in 2000.

Nigel Mansell

Starts: 32
Wins: 3

Already a world champion, Mansell would forever be bestowed with the honour of being the last driver hand-picked by Enzo Ferrari to race for his eponymous marque.

Mansell had endured a terrible season at Williams in 1988 but won in Brazil in 1989 – his first race behind the wheel of a Ferrari – and later in Hungary, too.

Reliability issues hampered the remainder of his debut year with the Prancing Horse and 1990 proved even worse in that regard as Mansell retired from seven grands prix, winning in Portugal but falling out with the team and returning to Williams the following year.

Mike Hawthorn

Starts: 24
Wins: 3

Hawthorn became the United Kingdom’s first Formula One world champion when he took the title with Ferrari in 1958.

Having driven for the team earlier in the decade, he returned to take the crown after winning in France and finishing second in Belgium, Britain, Portugal, Italy and Morocco.

He retired after winning the championship having watched team-mate Peter Collins die at the German Grand Prix months earlier – Hawthorn himself would die in a road accident in January 1959 at the age of 29.

Peter Whitehead

Starts: 8
Wins: 0

Whitehead may have raced in Formula One but it was with a Ferrari, rather than for the team itself.

The Englishman became the first private racer to convince Enzo Ferrari to sell him a car, which he duly painted in British racing green.

He was entered into one race by the works Ferrari team – but failed to qualify for the 1950 Swiss Grand Prix.

British teenager Ollie Bearman finished 10th in final practice after being thrown in at the deep end as a last-minute replacement for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Bearman, 18, will become Britain’s youngest driver to take part in a Formula One race at Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped the time sheets in Jeddah in the concluding running ahead of qualifying, with Charles Leclerc second and Sergio Perez third.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished fourth and ninth respectively for Mercedes.

All eyes were on the Ferrari garage with Bearman to become only the 12th British driver to race for Ferrari – and the first Englishman since Nigel Mansell in 1990 – following Sainz’s withdrawal with appendicitis.

The Spaniard, who is making way at Ferrari for Hamilton next year, requires surgery.

Bearman, from Chelmsford, Essex, who doesn’t turn 19 until May, will usurp McLaren’s Lando Norris as the youngest driver from Britain.

And in his first outing for the famous Ferrari team, he finished a respectable 10th, seven tenths adrift of Leclerc in the other scarlet machine.

Verstappen won last Saturday’s season-opening round in Bahrain – and despite the ongoing controversy at Red Bull – he looks set to extend his winning streak.

He finished two tenths ahead of Leclerc and half-a-second clear of Perez.

Hamilton, who complained about the bouncing in his Mercedes, was almost nine tenths off the pace and only marginally ahead of countryman Bearman.

The session was suspended for 13 minutes after Stake’s Zhou Guangzhou crashed out at high speed through Turn 8.

The Chinese driver was unharmed in the accident, but his team will face a race against time to repair his car for qualifying, which gets under way at 8pm local time (5pm GMT).

After making history by becoming the youngest British driver to step foot in a Formula One machine at a Grand Prix weekend last October, teenager Ollie Bearman is moving up another gear with his F1 debut for Ferrari at this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The 18-year-old, who turns 19 in May, has been called up as a last-minute stand-in for Carlos Sainz, who has been diagnosed with appendicitis and requires surgery.

Bearman was barely three months old when Fernando Alonso won his first world championship in 2005 – but on his F1 debut in Mexico City, five months ago – the Essex-born teen finished ahead of the double world champion.

“That was an added bonus,” he said with a broad smile.

Competing for American outfit Haas, Bearman finished 15th in first practice in Mexico, only 1.6 seconds slower than triple world champion Max Verstappen, and three tenths adrift of Nico Hulkenberg – a veteran of 200 grands prix – in the other Haas. He was also speedier than Alonso.

Five rookies were fielded at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and Bearman was quickest of them all.

Raised in Chelmsford and schooled at King Edward VI Grammar, Bearman joined Ferrari’s driver academy, aged only 16.

Bearman had just won both the German and Italian Formula Four championships, and his performances made those at Maranello sit up and take note.

He quit school – despite initial resistance from his mother, Terri – left the family home in Chelmsford and moved to Modena, a dozen miles north of Ferrari’s headquarters in northern Italy. Two years on, and his Italian twang is noticeable.

“Maybe I got a bit lucky not to get the Essex accent,” he joked, in an interview with the PA news agency.

“A lot of people have told me my accent has changed even if I don’t notice it. I spend a lot of time with Italians and to communicate with people where English is not their first language is not easy, so I have changed my word order and ended up with this everywhere accent.

“When I moved to Modena it happened pretty quickly. It was like going to university two years early, but I have loved every moment so far.

“My mum was very pro-school and very pro-education, but we managed to convince her in the end.

“I miss my family, my two dogs – I have an English Bull Terrier and a Boston Terrier and they are very cute – and that is the negative side. But the food in Italy is a big chunk above the English stuff and the weather is better, too.”

Following four victories in his rookie Formula Two season – the feeder series to F1 – Bearman was thrust into the spotlight in Mexico City, eclipsing Lando Norris as the sport’s youngest Brit.

Norris, now in his sixth season, was three months shy of his 19th birthday when he took part in practice for McLaren in Belgium in 2018. Bearman turned 18 last May.

When Lewis Hamilton made his F1 bow, Bearman was only 18 months old. Yet in October, he shared the same asphalt as the seven-time world champion.

“When I heard Hamilton was coming up behind me on a push lap I was like, ‘wow, I will get out of the way’,” he added.

However, it was Hamilton’s former McLaren team-mate, the 2009 world champion Jenson Button, who was Bearman’s childhood hero.

“I heard Jenson was praising me on Sky and that was amazing for me to hear,” he adds.

“I don’t know why, but he was always the guy I loved and really looked up to. It is cool that he recognised my performance in practice and I will try to speak to him here – that is my goal.”

Bearman remains in F2 this season after completing practice for Haas – effectively Ferrari’s B team – four months ago in Abu Dhabi.

But he misses this weekend’s round due to his stand-in responsibilities for Ferrari.

“It is really cool that I have been given this opportunity,” he said. “My whole career has been a pinch-yourself moment, and this is another one.

“Ferrari is such an elusive team. They are an iconic brand, they have an iconic colour and they have the best-looking car on the grid. They are putting a lot of trust in me, and loyalty is an important part of this paddock.

“Of course my goal is to become a Ferrari driver and I need to do that with my performances on track. Today was an amazing moment and one I will savour for years to come.

“It is a shame it was only practice, but it is all part and parcel of the work we have been doing to get to the top.”

This Saturday night, Bearman will become only the 12th British driver to compete for Ferrari and the first Englishman since Nigel Mansell in 1990.

Bearman will get a first taste of his Ferrari in final practice, which gets under way at 1630 local time (1330GMT) on Friday ahead of qualifying at 2000 (1700GMT).

British teenager Ollie Bearman will be handed his Formula One debut as a last-minute stand-in for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz at this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Spaniard has been diagnosed with appendicitis and requires surgery, and – as a result – is ruled out of the second round of the 2024 championship.

Sainz’s absence through illness hands a dramatic debut to 18-year-old Bearman.

Ferrari reserve driver Bearman, who turns 19 in May, will become the youngest Briton to compete in a Formula One race.

A Ferrari statement read: “Carlos Sainz has been diagnosed with appendicitis and will require surgery.

“As from FP3 and for the rest of this weekend, he will be replaced by reserve driver Oliver Bearman.

“Oliver will therefore take no further part in this round of the F2 Championship. The Ferrari family wishes Carlos a speedy recovery.”

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team were fined nearly £13,000 – and the British driver was slapped with a warning – following a near “serious high-speed crash” in practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Williams driver Logan Sargeant was forced to take evasive action to avoid hitting the back of Hamilton’s slow-moving Mercedes.

Formula One’s stewards said Mercedes should have informed Hamilton that Sargeant was approaching him on a quick lap. The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is the fastest street track on the F1 calendar.

Carlos Sainz, who Hamilton will replace at Ferrari next year and who witnessed the incident, said over the radio: “What Hamilton did there is super dangerous.

“He was in the middle (of the track). He could have got out of the way. Sargeant nearly crashed because of him.”

Hamilton, who finished eighth in practice, six places behind team-mate George Russell – and 0.677 seconds adrift of fastest driver Fernando Alonso – was summoned to see the stewards.

A report from the governing FIA read: “The stewards heard from the driver of Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), the driver of Car 2 (Logan Sargeant), team representatives and reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video, team radio and in-car video evidence and determine that Car 44 impeded Car 2 at Turn 11.

“As a result, Car 2 had to take evasive action by going off the track to avoid a collision. Had that not been done, there would have been a serious, high-speed crash.

“Having listened to the team radio, it was clear to us that the team of Car 44 failed to warn their driver of the fact that Car 2 was arriving on a fast lap. That was a serious failure on the part of the team, particularly given the speeds on this circuit and the nature of Turn 11, which is at the end of a series of high speed corners where driver visibility is impaired.

“We therefore issue a warning to the driver and impose a fine of 15,000 euros (£12,818) to the team.”

Christian Horner said he is certain Max Verstappen will see out his contract with Red Bull, despite the ongoing controversy at Formula One’s world championship winning team.

Horner also insisted it is in “everybody’s collective interest to focus on the future” after Verstappen’s father, Jos, claimed Red Bull will “explode” if Horner remained in his role.

Verstappen, who won last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, has been linked with a shock move to Mercedes to replace Lewis Hamilton next season.

Hamilton said on Wednesday that the 26-year-old Dutch driver is on Mercedes’ “list”.

But when asked if he expected Verstappen to see out the remainder of his contract with Red Bull, which runs until 2028, Horner said: “I’m certain that he will. I mean, he’s got a great team around him, he’s got great faith in that team, and we’ve achieved an awful lot together.

“He’s committed to an agreement until 2028, and from a team side, and from Max’s side, we’re determined to build on the success that we’ve achieved already.

“His 55 victories have all come in Red Bull Racing cars and we are determined to build on that and add more wins in the future.”

Verstappen finished first in the opening practice session for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso topping the time sheets in the day’s concluding running.

George Russell was second with Lewis Hamilton eighth in the other Mercedes.

Verstappen ended the day in third, three tenths back from Alonso but such is the superiority of his Red Bull machine he remains the favourite to extend his winning run here on Saturday.

Verstappen Snr is absent from the second round of the championship as he competes in a Belgian rally.

Following his son’s victory in Bahrain, he said: “There is tension here while he (Horner) remains in position.

“The team is in danger of being torn apart. It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.”

Horner held clear-the-air talks with Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen a day after Verstappen Snr’s comments were published in the Mail on Sunday.

But Horner, 50, hinted he has not spoken to his star driver’s father since he was made aware of the incendiary remarks.

Horner continued: “I spoke to Jos following the grand prix and obviously congratulated him on his son’s performance. And I think it’s in everybody’s interest, collectively, that we’ve agreed to move on, to focus on the future.

“We both have a vested interest in his son, to provide the best cars for him and to get the best out of him, and he’s started the season in the best possible way. He’s an outstanding talent and hopefully we can continue to provide him with a very competitive car.”

Christian Horner called for an immediate end to the intrusion into his personal life, on the day it emerged his accuser has been suspended following Red Bull’s investigation into “inappropriate behaviour” against the Formula One team principal.

Horner, 50, was allowed to remain in his role after Red Bull Racing’s parent company GmbH said last Wednesday that the grievance against him had been dismissed.

The PA news agency understands the complainant, a female employee of the Milton Keynes team, has now been suspended on full pay as a direct result of Red Bull’s inquiry.

A Red Bull Racing spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment as it is an internal matter.”

Horner, who has always denied the claims made against him, was asked about the development in a press conference ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

He said: “I am afraid I can’t comment on anything that is confidential between an employee and the company.

“There is a grievance process that takes place in any company, and that process is confidential between the individuals and the company itself.

“I am not at liberty, due to those confidentiality (reasons) and out of respect to the company, and the other party, we are all bound by those same restrictions.

“So even if I would like to talk about it, I can’t because of those confidentiality restrictions.”

The complainant is understood to have received a legal letter at the beginning of this week, and now has five working days to appeal against the outcome of the investigation which has cast an enormous shadow over Red Bull and the sport.

Horner, who walked through the paddock hand-in-hand with his wife, the former Spice Girls’ singer Geri Halliwell, prior to last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, added: “My wife has been phenomenally supportive throughout this, as has my family, but the intrusion on my family is now enough and we need to move forward and focus on what we are here for, which is to go Formula One racing.

“I am very fortunate I have a beautiful family and a very supportive wife – but I am the only one that has been named in this.

“It is very trying and it is very challenging when there are children involved and there are families and parents involved. It is not pretty.

“But the reality is, is that there was a grievance that was raised, it was dealt with in the most professional manner, by the group, not by Red Bull Racing, but by the owners of Red Bull Racing, Red Bull GmbH, that appointed an independent KC, that is one of the most reputable KCs in the land, and he took time to investigate fully all of the facts.

“He interviewed all of the people involved as well as others of interest. He looked at everything and he came to the conclusion where he dismissed the grievance.

“As far as I am concerned, and as far as Red Bull are concerned, we moved on and we look to the future.

“The time now is to draw a line under it.”

Max Verstappen followed up his season-opening victory in Bahrain by posting the fastest time in first practice for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Despite the continued controversy surrounding Verstappen, Christian Horner and the Red Bull team, the Dutch driver saw off Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso by 0.186 seconds in the opening running at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Sergio Perez finished third in the other Red Bull, with George Russell fourth. His Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton finished ninth.

Verstappen opened up his championship defence with an emphatic victory in Bahrain last weekend.

Following the win, Verstappen’s father, Jos, claimed Red Bull could “explode” if Horner, who was cleared of “inappropriate behaviour” remains in his role.

It emerged here as practice got under way that Horner’s accuser has been suspended on full pay. Horner was exonerated last week and has always denied the claims.

However, Verstappen was able to put Red Bull’s off-track troubles to one side with an impressive display which will see him head into the weekend as the firm favourite to land yet another win.

Mercedes said an engine cooling problem contributed to their underwhelming display in Bahrain with Russell and Hamilton finishing fifth and seventh respectively.

Russell finished 0.280 sec behind Verstappen with Hamilton, 0.577 sec back.

The seven-time world champion’s future team Ferrari took fifth and sixth, with Charles Leclerc heading Carlos Sainz. Lando Norris was seventh for McLaren.

Horner is due to speak in a scheduled FIA press conference at 6:30 pm local time (3:30pm GMT) before the day’s concluding session begins at 8pm (5pm GMT).

Christian Horner’s accuser has been suspended following Red Bull’s investigation into “inappropriate behaviour” against the Formula One team principal, the PA news agency understands.

Horner, 50, was allowed to remain in his role after Red Bull Racing’s parent company GmbH said last Wednesday that the grievance against him had been dismissed.

PA understands the complainant, an employee of the Milton Keynes team, has now been suspended on full pay.

A Red Bull Racing spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment as it is an internal matter.”

Horner, who has always denied the claims made against him, is due to back in the spotlight in an official FIA press conference at 6:30pm local time (3:30pm GMT) in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Following last weekend’s season-opening race in Bahrain, Horner said he was “absolutely confident” he would stay on as Red Bull boss for the remainder of the season.

It is understood the female member of staff, who is believed to have reported for work on Monday, has been suspended as a direct of result of Red Bull’s inquiry.

The complainant is believed to have received a legal letter at the beginning of this week, and now has five working days to appeal the outcome of the investigation which has cast an enormous shadow over Red Bull and the sport.

A statement from Red Bull GmbH last Wednesday read: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete, and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed.

“The complainant has a right of appeal.

“Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.

“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned. Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”

Christian Horner’s accuser has been suspended following Red Bull’s investigation into “inappropriate behaviour” against the Formula One team principal, the PA news agency understands.

Horner, 50, was allowed to remain in his role after Red Bull Racing’s parent company GmbH said last Wednesday that the grievance against him had been dismissed.

PA understands the complainant, an employee of the Milton Keynes team, has now been suspended on full pay.

A Red Bull Racing spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment as it is an internal matter.”

Horner, who has always denied the claims made against him, is due to back in the spotlight in an official FIA press conference at 6:30pm local time (3:30pm GMT) in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Following last weekend’s season-opening race in Bahrain, Horner said he was “absolutely confident” he would stay on as Red Bull boss for the remainder of the season.

Christian Horner’s accuser has been suspended following Red Bull’s investigation into “inappropriate behaviour” against the Formula One team principal, the PA news agency understands.

Horner, 50, was allowed to remain in his role after Red Bull Racing’s parent company GmbH said last Wednesday that the grievance against him had been dismissed.

PA understands the complainant, an employee of the Milton Keynes team, has now been suspended on full pay.

A Red Bull Racing spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment as it is an internal matter.”

Horner, who has always denied the claims made against him, is due to back in the spotlight in an official FIA press conference at 6:30pm local time (3:30pm GMT) in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Following last weekend’s season-opening race in Bahrain, Horner said he was “absolutely confident” he would stay on as Red Bull boss for the remainder of the season.

Lewis Hamilton believes that Max Verstappen is a serious contender to replace him at Mercedes next season.

A vacancy has opened up at the Silver Arrows following Hamilton’s shock decision to join Ferrari.

The apparent division at Red Bull – following the very public spat between team principal Christian Horner and Verstappen’s father, Jos – has led to speculation that the Dutch driver, despite being under contract until 2028, could quit the team which has carried him to the past three world championships.

“My move has shown that anything is possible,” said Hamilton ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. “I know and I am sure Max is on the list.”

Hamilton and Verstappen’s relationship soured in 2021 as they fought for the world title – with Verstappen taking the championship following a deeply contentious end to the season decider in Abu Dhabi. Tensions were also high between Mercedes and Red Bull.

But Hamilton continued: “I wouldn’t say I am surprised that he is being considered. He is a great driver.

“And Max in that moment did what he had to do. It was nothing on him. It was the sport that let us down and that wasn’t his fault. If I was in his position I would have done the same thing, so there are no issues there.

“If you run a team you want the best driver and a driver that brings in the eyeballs and brings in the sponsorship and he is one of those. I understand it but it wouldn’t make sense for him, but it will be interesting to see.

“George (Russell) is an integral part of this team and he will be here for the long haul. He is doing a great job and he will grow to be a leader of this team so it will be interesting to see what their relationship looks like but I am sure they will work it out.

“It will definitely be a strong line-up.”

Earlier, Russell said he would welcome the challenge of going up against Verstappen, who has won 18 of the last 19 races and is the overwhelming favourite to claim another victory in Jeddah on Saturday night.

“This is my third season alongside Lewis, the greatest of all time and I feel like I have done a pretty good job alongside him,” said Russell.

“So, whoever were to line up alongside me, I welcome the challenge.

“You want to go against the best. I believe I can beat anybody on the grid. Having Lewis as my benchmark has been a good benchmark for sure.

“Any team wants to have the best driver line-up possible and right now Max is the best driver on the grid.

“If any team had a chance to sign Max they would 100 per cent be taking it but the question is on his side and Red Bull’s side and we don’t know what is truly going on behind closed doors and it is none of our business. But it would be exciting.”

Max Verstappen stood by his father Jos, saying “he is not a liar” following his explosive claim that Red Bull could explode if Christian Horner remains as team principal.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Verstappen was asked if his father regretted his remarks, which not only cast further doubt over Horner’s future, but of his son.

“I have not asked him that but my dad, from how I know him in go-karting, is very outspoken and he is not a liar, that is for sure.

“My dad and I are very close. We call every day.”

Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen met with Horner earlier this week in an attempt to clear the air at the crisis-hit team. Neither Max, nor Jos, were present.

And Verstappen added: “I don’t see myself in F1 without them (his father and manager) by my side.”

George Russell has said he would welcome the exciting challenge of going up against Max Verstappen at Mercedes.

Verstappen has won 18 of the last 19 races but his future at Red Bull is in the spotlight after his father Jos Verstappen called on team principal Christian Horner to be dismissed.

The apparent division at Red Bull has led to speculation that Verstappen, 26, could leave if Horner remains in his post – and Mercedes have refused to rule out a move for the triple world champion.

A vacancy has opened up at the Silver Arrows for 2025 following Lewis Hamilton’s shock decision to join Ferrari next season.

“This is my third season alongside Lewis, the greatest of all time, and I feel like I have done a pretty good job alongside him,” said Russell.

“So, whoever were to line up alongside me, I welcome the challenge.

“You want to go against the best. I am focused on myself but I believe I can beat anybody on the grid. Having Lewis as my benchmark has been a good benchmark for sure.”

Verstappen’s current deal with Red Bull runs until 2028.

Russell continued: “Any team wants to have the best driver line-up possible and right now Max is the best driver on the grid.

“If any team had a chance to sign Max they would 100 per cent be taking it, but the question is on his side and Red Bull’s side and we don’t know what is truly going on behind closed doors and it is none of our business, but it would be exciting.”

Russell was speaking ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and only a handful of days after Verstappen Snr cast doubt over his son’s Red Bull seat.

Verstappen Snr said: “There is tension here while he (Horner) remains in position.

“The team is in danger of being torn apart. It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.”

Verstappen will face the media in Jeddah later on Wednesday, while Horner, who held clear-the air-talks with his star driver’s manager Raymond Vermeulen earlier this week, will be in Thursday’s FIA team principals’ press conference.

Formula One’s governing body has broken its silence on claims surrounding president Mohammed Ben Sulayem by admitting a report “detailing potential allegations involving certain members of its governing body” exists.

Ben Sulayem is reportedly under investigation for interfering with the result of last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and attempting to block the certification of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

F1’s regulator said in a statement on Tuesday: “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.”

According to the BBC, a report by motorsport governing body’s compliance officer Paolo Basarri to the ethics committee says Ben Sulayem acted to overturn a penalty given to Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso at the 2023 Saudi Grand Prix.

A BBC report published on Monday claims a whistleblower alleged Ben Sulayem called Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa – FIA vice-president for sport for the Middle East and North Africa region, who was in Saudi Arabia for the race in an official capacity – and made it clear he thought Alonso’s penalty should be revoked.

The removal of Alonso’s 10-second penalty, imposed for work done on his car while he was serving a previous five-second penalty, returned him to the podium behind Red Bull duo Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, after the sanction had dropped him to fourth.

At the time there was no suggestion there was anything untoward with the decision after Aston Martin’s sporting director Andy Stevenson had put the team’s case to stewards in a right of review.

On Tuesday a further allegation – also published in a BBC report – said Ben Sulayem had told officials not to certify the Las Vegas circuit for its Grand Prix last year.

An FIA spokesperson told the BBC: “From a sporting and safety perspective, the Las Vegas circuit approval followed FIA protocol in terms of inspection and certification.

“If you recall, there was a delay in the track being made available for inspection due to ongoing local organiser construction works.”

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