F1 Whistleblower Says FIA President Fixed a Race Result to Benefit Alonso

This isn't the first time the two-time world champion is linked to a race-fixing scandal.

Who had “Formula 1 race-rigging scandal” on their 2024 bingo card? Anyone? Neither did I. Either way, new reports that surfaced Monday afternoon claim that FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem used his authority to influence the results of the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

According to BBC Sport, a whistleblower reported to the FIA that Ben Sulayem allegedly intervened to overturn a time penalty issued to Fernando Alonso during that race. The 10-second penalty was awarded when the Aston Martin crew touched Alonso’s car while it served an unrelated five-second penalty in the pits—something that’s explicitly against the rules.

FIA Compliance Officer Paolo Basarri explains in the report that the whistleblower alleges Ben Sulayem “pretended the stewards to overturn their decision to issue” the penalty. BBC Sport clarifies that in Italian, the word “pretendere” means “to require or expect.”


The report explains that Ben Sulayem personally called FIA’s Vice President for Sport for the Middle East and North Africa region, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and told him the penalty should be revoked.

The British news outlet claims to have seen Basarri’s official report and corroborated the information with several senior figures in F1, all of whom agreed to have received the same information but chose to remain anonymous.

The 10-second penalty demoted Alonso from third place to fourth, forcing him to relinquish his podium position, trophy, and championship points to Mercedes’ George Russell. A few hours after the race ceremony concluded, however, the FIA stewards rescinded the penalty and reinstated Alonso as the third-place finisher. The move was met with some confusion at the time, though it was said that Aston Martin had enough evidence to appeal the penalty.

Now it appears that Ben Sulayem could’ve pulled some strings to favor Aston Martin and Alonso. Again, it’s worth highlighting that all of this took place during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco just so happens to be a major sponsor of not just Aston Martin, but also F1 in general.

The FIA’s ethics committee will reportedly take up to six weeks to issue its report on the matter. Interestingly enough, the last time an F1 race’s results were tampered with, it was also to help Alonso win—something that many years later turned into a lawsuit from Felipe Massa.

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