July 23, 2024

George Russell, the driver, and Toto Wolff, the principal of the Mercedes team, commented following the announcement of an internal FIA investigation into Mohammed ben Sulayem, the president of the bodies

George Russell and his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff have demanded openness from the FIA in the midst of president Mohammed ben Sulayem’s ongoing probe.

A whistleblower came forward and the 62-year-old was reported to the ethics committee of Formula 1’s governing body. They claimed that Ben Sulayem had tried to have Fernando Alonso’s penalty from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last year overturned.

During the race, the Spaniard was given a five-second penalty that he did not properly serve, resulting in a 10-second penalty. The stewards said that the rear jack touching his car while it was stopped in the pits amounted to working on the vehicle while serving the first penalty.

However, Aston Martin objected to that ruling following the race and provided proof of earlier instances in which other teams and drivers had not faced consequences for similar behavior. The stewards later overturned the 10-second penalty, restoring Alonso’s podium finish.

But it was alleged earlier this month that Ben Sulayem had become personally involved in the situation. The whistleblower reportedly informed FIA compliance officer Paolo Basarri that the president had requested “the stewards to overturn their decision” to impose the penalty, according to the BBC.

The FIA ethics committee is currently deliberating over the issue. A final report is anticipated to take a minimum of one month, and potentially longer, according to the BBC.

After taking over third place from Alonso, Russell was the one who benefited from the penalty. The Mercedes driver fell back to fourth place, and the Spaniard reclaimed third position after the penalty was later overturned.

Regarding the investigation that took place in Jeddah this year, the British national stated: “We would like to see all of the information and complete transparency.” Here, we are all in a race. We desire an equitable and level playing field so that we can demonstrate our abilities. I really am at a loss for words.

“The Mercedes legal team believed they did an excellent job of presenting our case, winning it at first, and then losing it again, so we were shocked when the outcome was overturned a year ago. Thus, all we ask for is openness and the chance to compete on an even playing field.”

Team boss Wolff gave a similar statement, adding: “The FIA will follow its processes here, I am convinced of that. I think we have all learned that we have to be transparent. We are at the top of the sport and we have a lot of fans. Then things happen that simply don’t belong here and are not what most people here want.”

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