FIA now ‘course corrected’ after Ben Sulayem F1 move – Brown
By Ian Parkes
Wednesday 15th February, 2023 - 3:36am
McLaren CEO Zak Brown feels FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has made the right call in stepping back from his F1 commitments.
Ben Sulayem handed over his day-to-day stewardship of Formula 1 earlier this month, stating it was always his intention to do so after being elected to his position in December 2021.
During his tenure, however, the 61-year-old Emirati has courted controversy with some of his decision-making and comments via his social media account.
That has been to the frustration of the teams and drivers, as well as F1 CEO and President Stefano Domenicali.
Ben Sulayem has now made single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis the day-to-day contact for the teams.
Reflecting on Ben Sulayem’s decision to step back, Brown said: “As far as the FIA is concerned, it got a bit exciting there over the winter.
“But things seem to have course corrected.
“We have our first F1 Commission meeting in a little less than 10 days’ time.
“Nikolas is someone that we’ve been working with for quite some time, and he has done a very good job, we’re very comfortable with him.
“So I think the FIA-Formula 1 relationship seems to be in a good working place, and so I’m looking forward to a productive FIA commission meeting.”
McLaren reviewing PU future
Another major talking point over the winter was the FIA releasing a list of the power unit manufacturers that have signed up as suppliers from 2026.
Alongside Mercedes and Ferrari, Renault will revert to Alpine, there are newcomers in Audi and Red Bull Ford, whilst Honda has also declared its intention to return to F1.
There have been suggestions McLaren could again ditch Mercedes and return to Honda, as it unsuccessfully did in 2015.
Honda, however, is now a different proposition since those wretched early days of its 1.6-litre turbo-hybrid venture.
It has helped Red Bull become constructors’ champions for the first time since 2014 and powered Max Verstappen to back-to-back drivers’ titles.
Although the Japanese manufacturer departed F1 at the end of 2021, it could now return in 2026, with suggestions it has held preliminary talks with McLaren.
Asked about the possibility of joining forces with a different PU supplier in a few years’ time, Brown said: “We’re very happy with Mercedes.
“We have some time to decide what we want to do for ’26 and beyond.
“It’s exciting for Formula 1 that we have new manufacturers coming into the sport. That shows the growth of and the excitement for the sport.
“It’s something Andrea (Stella, Team Principal) and I are slowly reviewing. We’re not in a big rush but we are very happy with Mercedes and we will see how things play out in the next year or so before we make a decision.”
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