The 60-year-old becomes the first non-European chief of the FIA
Rally driver Mohammed Ben Suleyem has been elected as the new FIA president who succeeds ex Ferrari team boss Jean Todt who retired after 12 years at the job. The Frenchman left after his third term in the role. Ben Sulayem is a 14-time Middle East Rally Champion who has served as Vice President of the FIA since 2008 and has sat on the world motorsport council.
He beat current deputy president Graham Stoker to the role with a 62 per cent vote at the meeting of the FIA general assembly on Friday morning. Ben Suleyman was the leader of the organising team that introduced the Abu Dhabi GP into F1 in 2009, and since then mostly it has served as the season finale.
“I am very honoured to have been elected FIA President at the conclusion of the Annual General Assembly in Paris today. I thank all the Member Clubs for their esteem and trust. I congratulate Graham for his campaign and his engagement to the Federation. I wish to express my infinite gratitude in the name of the FIA and that of its Members to Jean Todt for all that has been achieved over the past 12 years. I am committed to pursuing the important work and make motorsport and mobility take further steps forward,” said Ben Sulayem.
The 60-year-old has been the president of the automobile and touring club of the UAE for the past 15 years and was the first Arab to be elected as an FIA Vice President. He also led the FIA Motorsport development task force which was launched in 2013. The task force aimed to grow interest in motorsport across the world in a sustainable way.
This also means he becomes the first non-European to take on the role and was given the backing of Motorsport UK as well.
“A chapter has come to an end. We can be collectively satisfied of our achievements in motorsport and safe and sustainable mobility over the past 12 years. I would like to warmly thank my team, our administration and all our Member Clubs for their unwavering commitment, enthusiasm and resilience. I congratulate Mohammed on his election as FIA President and wish him, his team, and the Federation the best of success for the years to come,” said outgoing FIA President Jean Todt at the announcement of his appointment.
“I want to personally congratulate Mohammed Ben Sulayem on his election as President of the FIA. Formula 1 and the FIA have always been determined to ensure the long-term success of our sport and I know this will continue under his new leadership. I look forward to working closely with the new President and his team as we need to maintain momentum and focus on the big issues facing the sport. I want to also applaud Graham Stoker whose commitment to motorsport has always been very strong and I am sure he will continue to work tirelessly in support of the future and growth of our sport,” said F1 CEO Stephane Domenicali.
“I also want pay a personal tribute to Jean Todt for the incredible job he has done over the past 12 years in leading our sport and the wider motorsport community and the huge efforts he has made in the areas of safety and sustainability that have had an immeasurable impact on the sport and the lives of people around the world. We will miss him, and I wish him the best for his future and the next chapter in his incredible career,” the Italian added speaking fondly of his former Ferrari boss.
Todt has been rumoured to be returning to Ferrari in a consultant role.