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FIA president Ben Sulayem investigated for alleged race interference

Mohammed Ben Sulayem: FIA president under investigation for alleged attempt to interfere over F1 race

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, president of motorsport's governing body the FIA, is under investigation for allegedly interfering over a Formula 1 race result.

A whistleblower has told the FIA that Ben Sulayem allegedly intervened to overturn a penalty given to Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The claim is in a report by an FIA compliance officer to its ethics committee, which has been seen by BBC Sport.

Ben Sulayem and the FIA have not responded to requests for comment.

The allegation made by the whistleblower is that Ben Sulayem called Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa - the FIA's 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.

Alonso had been given a 10-second penalty for work done on his car while he was serving a previous five-second penalty.

The report, by compliance officer Paolo Basarri, says the whistleblower reported that Ben Sulayem "pretended the stewards to overturn their decision to issue" the penalty to Alonso.

In Italian, the word "pretendere" means to require or expect.

The ethics committee is expected to take four to six weeks to issue its report.
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The penalty in question had dropped Alonso from third place - behind Red Bull drivers Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen - to fourth, also behind Mercedes' George Russell. Withdrawing it returned him to a podium position.

In addition, BBC Sport has verified the information with several senior figures at high levels in F1 and close to the FIA. None would go on the record, but all said they had the same information.

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