wolff horner harmony say ben sulayem fia president

There were smiles and harmony between Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull rival Christian Horner during this week’s Formula One Commission meeting, revealed FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

The pair engaged in an escalating battle of words off track last season even as the duel between their drivers Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen raged on it.

The battle-of-the-generations between the two culminated in a controversial season-finale in Abu Dhabi where a questionable late-race safety car call decided the title in favour of the Dutchman, with Mercedes unsuccessfully protesting the results before deciding not to go ahead with an appeal.

But, despite last year’s acrimony, peace reigned between Wolff and Horner at Monday’s meeting, according to Ben Sulayem who, in December 2021, took over the FIA Presidency from Jean Todt as the most powerful man in motoring and motorsport, which includes heading up F1’s governing body.

“They were in line,” the Emirati ex-rally champion driver turned FIA president joked when speaking to Sky Sports F1. “I think it’s because of Valentine’s Day.

Ben Sulayem added on a serious note: “They were close to each other and they were in a good mood, so that was good. I expected more entertainment but it was good to see the harmony between them.”

The integrity of the FIA will always be intact

The meeting of the F1 Commission, which comprises all ten teams, the FIA (headed by Ben Sulayem) and commercial rights holder FOM, approved several changes for the 2022 season, including a plan to scale the number of sprint race weekends to three from the originally-planned six.

The FIA was also due to present the outcome of their investigation into the Abu Dhabi finale, in which race director Michael Masi altered the safety car procedure that moved only the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen out of the way. This allowed the Dutchman, on fresher tyres, to pass the Briton for the title on the last lap.

Masi’s future has been the subject of speculation since the December finale with talk that his responsibilities could be divided to lessen his workload.

But a statement from the governing body said Ben Sulayem had sought further feedback from the commission and would unveil an action plan in response to the controversy in the “coming days”.

“We agreed on certain things and the analysis is still going on Information will be announced, but definitely as I said, the integrity of the FIA will always be intact,” insisted Ben Sulayem. (Reporting by Abhishek Takle)