The president of Formula One’s governing body, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, is under investigation for alleged interference in the outcome of the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the BBC reported on Monday. A spokesperson for the Paris-based Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), asked for comment on the report, could not confirm any details but said “the matter is being discussed internally.”

The BBC said it had seen a report from FIA compliance chief Paolo Basarri to its ethics committee in which a whistleblower claimed the president had intervened to overturn a penalty given to Fernando Alonso d ‘Aston Martin. Bin Sulayem reportedly called Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, FIA vice-president of sports for the Middle East and North Africa, who was officially participating in the race.

Double world champion Alonso reclaimed the 100th podium of his Formula 1 career after a U-turn from officials hours after arriving in Jeddah on March 19 last year. The 41-year-old Spaniard had finished third but was demoted to fourth place by a 10-second penalty after the race for failing to properly serve a five-second penalty for an error in placing his car on the starting grid. The stewards found that the rear jack was in contact with the car before the end of five seconds.

This second penalty, imposed more than 30 laps after his pit stop, was later overturned when his team was granted a right of review after presenting new evidence to support its case. The new evidence included minutes of a Sports Advisory Committee meeting and video of “seven different instances where cars were hit by the jack while serving a similar penalty… without being penalized.”

SEE ALSO – Rafael Leão’s magnificent goal with AC Milan against Atalanta on February 25 (1-1)