Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been elected as the new president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), succeeding the long-serving Jean Todt.
His appointment as the head of motorsport’s governing body, which also works to promote road safety, comes just five days after the hugely controversial conclusion to the 2021 Formula 1 season.
The 60-year-old won 61.6% of today’s vote of the FIA General Assembly, defeating Brit Graham Stoker, who served as the FIA’s deputy president for sport under Todt. Stoker took 36.6% of the vote.
Ben Sulayem becomes the first non-European president of motorsport’s governing body. Born in Dubai, he’s a 14-time Middle East rally champion and has was previously vice-president of mobility and tourism at the FIA. He has been the chairman of the United Arab Emirates motorsport federation since 2006.
Among his election promises for his four-year term, Ben Sulayem has vowed to double motorsport participation, put best-practice governance structures in place and bolster diversity and inclusion.
His nominated team includes Fabiana Ecclestone, wife of ex-F1 boss Bernie and formerly head of marketing for the Brazilian Grand Prix, to represent South America; and Scotsman Robert Reid, world champion co-driver to Richard Burns, as candidate for deputy president for sport.
He said on Twitter: “I am truly honoured to be elected president of the FIA. Thank you all so much. I am humbled by the trust you’ve placed in me and the team and we pledge to govern in the interests of all members.”
In the official FIA statement, he added: “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.”
Ben Sulayem’s candidacy had been backed by Motorsport UK, which governs the sport in this country. Chairman David Richards said: “Motorsport UK and the Royal Automobile Club undertook a significant consultation process to properly assess the manifestos of both candidates, Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Graham Stoker.
“Our decision to support Mohammed was formed on the belief that motorsport is faced with a challenging period where significant innovation and adaptation will be required. To be successful, a dynamic and imaginative leadership was required, and one that holds itself accountable to its members.”