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FIA’s F1 structure set for reshuffle with sporting director Nielsen set to depart

The FIA’s Formula 1 team will face a reshuffle before the start of the 2024 season, with sporting director Steve Nielsen set to leave his role.

Steve Nielsen, FIA Sporting Director, Niels Wittich, Race Director, FIA

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The highly respected Nielsen was originally appointed at the start of this year, having had a lengthy career in grand prix racing at a number of teams including Lotus, Tyrrell, Benetton, Williams and AlphaTauri prior to working at Formula 1 management.

He worked closely with F1 race director Niels Wittich and took responsibility at the FIA for all sporting matters in F1, including the development of race control and the remote operations centre, as well as future updates to the sporting regulations.

However, off the back of a challenging year for the FIA which has faced scrutiny over a number of issues, including track limits and president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s style of leadership, high level sources have indicated that Nielsen has decided against continuing.

There are suggestions that he had grown frustrated with the way the F1 operations were being run and the direction things were heading.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, FIA President

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, FIA President

While sources have indicated Nielsen’s departure is a done deal, there has been no official statement from the FIA about the matter, nor any indication of any potential changes that will be made within its F1 operations.

Autosport has reached out to the FIA for a comment.

Nielsen’s departure, when confirmed, will be a major loss to the governing body as his huge experience had been invaluable in helping it make improvements, and he was highly respected among teams in the paddock.

Nielsen was an integral part of an expanded F1 team within the FIA that operated under single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis. This also included technical director Tim Goss, financial director Federico Lodi and operations director Francois Sicard.

Speaking at the time of his appointment, Ben Sulayem believed the appointment of Nielsen was significant in helping the organisation move forward.

He said: “We have dedicated a lot of time and effort to making significant, informed changes to our Formula 1 team to create the right structure with the right people to oversee the future regulation of the sport.

“By developing and empowering people within our organisation, as well as bringing in expertise and experience from the outside, I am confident that we are in the best position possible to move forward together with our partners at FOM and the Formula 1 teams.”

At the start of this year, Ben Sulayem announced that, with his F1 team in place, he wanted to step back from day-to-day involvement in grand prix racing.

An FIA spokesman said about that decision: "The FIA President has a wide remit that covers the breadth of global motor sport and mobility, and now that the structural reorganisation in Formula 1 is complete this is a natural next step.”

As part of his decision to not be so hands on with F1, Ben Sulayem recently appointed former journalist Dieter Rencken to the role of F1 Commissioner to help oversee future development of regulations as well as assist in discussions over the next Concorde Agreement.

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