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Russell calls for "total transparency" in FIA's Ben Sulayem F1 case

Mercedes driver George Russell says Formula 1 needs to see “all of the facts” and “have total transparency” into the ethics investigation currently concerning FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, Mohammed bin Sulayem, President, FIA, in Parc Ferme after Qualifying

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

In two separate reports published by the BBC this week, it is claimed a whistleblower has accused Ben Sulayem of attempting to interfere in the result of the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and that later in last season he allegedly pushed for officials to find a way not to certify the new Las Vegas circuit.

The FIA has since confirmed that its compliance officer “has received a report detailing potential allegations involving certain members of its governing bodies”.

Its compliance department is now “assessing these concerns, as is common practice in these matters, to ensure that due process is meticulously followed", per an FIA statement.

Russell, who was briefly promoted to third in the 2023 Jeddah event by a post-race penalty initially handed to Aston Martin racer Fernando Alonso before it was overturned in a right of review re-examination of the incident, was asked about the situation during the pre-event press conference for this weekend’s 2024 Saudi race.

When asked if he had any concerns given his position as a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, Russell replied: “We want to see all of the facts and just have total transparency, really.

“We’re all racing here, we all want a fair and level playing field for us to showcase what we can do. I can’t really comment further.”

But Russell went on to add that his team was “surprised a year ago when the result got overturned, as the legal team at Mercedes thought they did a great job of presenting our case and initially winning the case, and then losing it thereafter.”

“We just want to see transparency and have that opportunity to race on a fair playing field.”

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, is congratulated by Mohammed bin Sulayem, President, FIA, in Parc Ferme

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, is congratulated by Mohammed bin Sulayem, President, FIA, in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Alonso was also asked about the reports, with the Aston driver initially suggesting that the topic was only coming up due to Red Bull’s current domination of F1.

"There is too much talk off-track because on-track activities are not very exciting at the moment,” said Alonso.

“There is one car winning for the last 72 grand prix, more or less dominating three years. So, when this happens in a sport there is always a lot of activity off-track.

“It's more an FIA investigation that we have to respect and see the outcome.

“We are happy with all the evidence and all the proofs that we showed last year, so it was quite a clear resolution for us.

“So, let's see what FIA says on their own investigation, but it's not really up to Aston Martin.”

Meanwhile, McLaren’s Lando Norris said of the allegations around the FIA president: “You never want that sort of thing to happen at any point”.

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

This was after Norris initially said he does not think F1 should be “interrupted by what happens away from the circuit”, which relates to the current focus on Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

“[The FIA ethics case is] a bigger topic,” said Norris. “Again, it's not something that directly involves me. I'm sure there's the investigations going on and all of that, and I don't know everything about it.

“If it does come up, and the drivers are more involved, then absolutely [I will comment], but of course, it wasn't something that we knew about either.

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“And I don't know all the facts about it. So, it's not something I can speak about, but you never want that sort of thing to happen at any point. Because of preference or whatever it is from any side.

“So yeah, as long as that gets resolved, then all looks good.”

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble and Adam Cooper

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