Another article, perhaps written to destabilize FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, was published the other day. Not by a garbage-established media news monopoly, but by BBC F1. BBC F1’s arrival in the debate surrounding Ben Sulayem is a sign of growing discontent among the close-knit warring factions of the F1 community. More than likely F1 team bosses have become united in their silence to be rid of Ben Sulayem’s awkward reign of his FIA Presidency. Andrew Benson, BBC Sports Chief F1 correspondent, has been seemingly recruited to write Ben Sulayem into a corner perhaps to focus an intense trial by media spotlight that shines so bright it ends up burning Ben Sulaymen’s booty out of his bespoke high-back leather office chair and running in the direction of Saudi Arabia, never to return.
Andrew Benson is one of the finest writers in F1, we admire his work because we can never be his equal. We are Eddie Irvine to his Michael Schumacher. But a hit piece is still a hit piece no matter how distinguished or esteemed the organization is or how highly respected the individual. Writing for the BBC carries a lot of credibility and gives any writer a solid foundation to be taken seriously in front of a massive online audience. But a hit piece is still a hit piece. In a recently published article, Benson goes into forensic detail outlining Ben Sulayem’s unsuitability for the FIA Presidency.
Benson cites widespread disapproval among all teams regarding Ben Sulayem’s management style. Ben Sulayem allegedly comes across as a crass, out of his depth individual. F1 drivers are also unhappy with Ben Sulayem, they feel he is implementing an authoritarian gag on individuality. In recent history, going back 30-40 years, the FIA has always been a source of antagonism for team bosses. Balestre, and Moseley spring to mind, although Jean Todt’s quiet authoritative dignity represented a rare period of stability.
Ben Sulayem is a fresh source of antagonism and F1 simply wants nothing more than to race and earn money. Lots of money. Anything or anyone that interrupts Formula One’s fragile, tenuous, and feudalistic balance of power becomes a target. So, to protect their interests the kings of the F1 business recruit agents, courtiers to act as the thought police, a mouthpiece in which to feed a negative narrative to a wide audience, a narrative that is designed to intensify over many weeks until it expands like a balloon and pops.
Benson’s article repeatedly calls out misogynist comments made by Ben Sulayem over 20 years ago. Fair enough, he held idiotic views that are now being swept under the PR carpet. But if F1 is suddenly shocked at misogyny they should look at themselves and ask why is there no female FIA President? Is this not an example of misogyny operating in plain sight? Why does F1 have a conspicuous lack of female presence holding senior positions?
For women, the glass ceiling is getting thicker and shows no sign of shattering anytime soon. But no, we are guided to believe the male Arab culture is too savage, too stuck in its way to know any better. As if Western misogyny is better and more progressive.
It is easy for journalists to become captured if they sail too close to the gentle influence of access journalism. When this situation occurs, you stop becoming a journalist, start drinking the kool-aid, and turn into a corporate prisoner who identifies with his corporate captors. Benson is a fine writer, but perhaps on this occasion he has sailed too close to the whirlpool of influence and has become a bespoke mouthpiece for F1 to vent their disapproval at the FIA President whilst they hide behind a wall of credibility afforded to them by BBC journalists.