Grid, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

Ben Sulayem raises safety concerns over “too many people on the grid” at races

2023 F1 season

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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has sought assurances from race promoters that safety will not be compromised by the growing number of people allowed onto grids.

Recent “safety and security issues at events” were discussed during the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council meeting hosted by Ben Sulayem in Cordoba, Spain today. These included a post-race track invasion at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, a report on which is due at the end of this month, and another incident during the formation lap at the Spanish Grand Prix.

“We must take learnings from the incident at the Spanish Grand Prix,” said Ben Sulayem. The race was held at the Circuit de Catalunya earlier this month.

He said the FIA has been given assurances by Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali that “measures are being taken to ensure that there is no repeat of the incident”.

“It is an issue not just in F1 but also in Formula E and World Endurance Championship and other categories from my recent experiences with too many people on the grid at some events,” Ben Sulayem continued.

Grid safety is a concern in F1, FE and WEC, said Ben Sulayem
“I have no doubt that in all cases, the promoter will adhere to the FIA requirements on safety and security. It is the duty of the FIA to ensure a safe environment for all. Safety in motorsport is the federation’s main priority.”

The WMSC meeting also approved revisions to F1’s power unit regulations and appointed the suppliers of two standard parts for the 2026 to 2030 seasons. Bosch will supplier knock sensors, which detect irregular vibrations in power units, and Bender will provide insulation monitoring devices.

Ben Sulayem said the process of verifying the teams’ 2022 budget cap submissions is “progressing well”, but did not indicate when it will be completed. It is the second time F1 teams have submitted figures for formal approval since the cap was introduced. Last year Aston Martin and Williams were fined for committing procedural errors, while Red Bull were fined $7 million and had their Aerodynamic Testing Restriction allocation cut for over-spending.

The FIA president also said progress is being made with the applications submitted from potential new F1 teams, invitations for which opened in February. However no indication of how many applications were made was given.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “Ben Sulayem raises safety concerns over “too many people on the grid” at races”

  1. This is quite the statement from the guy himself who appears to “unnecessarily” be at EVERY possible race bobbing about either on or near the podium, waltzing around on the grid with a following audience or bouncing round the paddock.
    It strikes me as he likes to be seen “in action” and/or on camera !!
    My memory serves me that his predecessor(s) where seldom seen at the circuit and if they were, they were not running round like headless chickens anyway !!! hahaha

    Reply moderated
  2. This being Mr Sulayem, I would have exactly one guess which sort of people they would see removed from the grid.

    1. Well, I’m curious. What sort?

      1. Didn’t he make some of se-istic comment several years ago (I hate that word, hence I don’t write it ofc)? If so it’s self-explanatory what kind of people he’d like to see removed, not sure it was what he hinted at but given the character we’re talking about here it’s possible.

  3. What happened on the Spanish GP formation lap?
    I’m confused because I didn’t notice anything particular or unusual.

    1. @jerejj.
      Evidently, spectators were on the sides when the cars left for formation lap.

    2. @jerejj I can’t remember if it’s 5 or 10 minutes before the start of the formation lap now but all celebrities, media & other invitees are supposed to be off the grid by that point.

      But at the Spanish GP one of the celebrities remained on the track after he was supposed to have left & from what I understand that wasn’t the first time something like that has happened as Liberty are handing out more grid passes than used to be the case & it’s getting more difficult to manage given how manic the grid can be at the best of times.

      1. @gt-racer @jimfromus
        Okay, that explains & I eventually figured out that Neymar & some other celebs had been standing on grid edge when only mechanics, marshals, & or FIA officials should be there.

  4. If they don’t have a job to do they shouldn’t be walking the grid. Simple as that.

    1. Coventry Climax
      20th June 2023, 23:39

      According to -debateable- Liberty logic, they are doing a job: Improve the show, Attrack more viewers and generate more money.

      1. I don’t personally give a flying fig about most celebrities on the Grid. Even those that I respect for thier respective vocation.

        However I realise that many do like to see them and as such my primary view is that celebs should not need a massive – or even a small – entourage, and they should make themselves accessable and available to the interviewers and reporters. Otherwise it’s just a grand display of entitlement.

        1. I rarely know who(m) they are … snooker champs, etc.

  5. They’re a peculiar thing really. I don’t generally watch them. I normally use that time to make sure there’s food, drinks and ‘life admin’ is sorted so I don’t have to do anything but F1 for two hours.

    I watched the Monaco one and it looked ridiculous. I’m not claustrophobic, but I felt a little watching that. Some Red Bull mechanic practicing his ‘French’ on a random. And then Martin told Beverly Knight she was a ‘massive F1 fan’, which she seemed surprised to hear, then said something hoping whichever team she was with to win.

    And where are they trying to go anyway? Does Al Pacino start at the back and (try) to walk down the grid? If so why are people going the opposite way? It’s like dizzy Lemmings squeezed into a Sardine tin. As for Covid, I imagine someone in the British Conservative party is thinking ‘well at least we didn’t do that”.

    Obviously someone promotes their film / music, and F1 gets some cool stickers in return. But it is a peculiar thing.

    1. Love when Martin mis-identifies people and asks these VIPs questions about racing and race teams. I’m not sure these people know anything. I avoid the pre-race when possible, but I can usually hear my wife yelling at Martin regardless of me being in the house or out in the yard.

  6. Keep all the VIPs out of there, and there you have it, problem solved. Just journalists, TV crews and team crews allowed.

    Do you really need Serena and Venus Williams plus all their bouncers around the cars? or Federer… or Kylie Minogue, Neymar, Jeremy Clarkson…

    1. I know it’s entertainment but the grid walk used to be actually good info, and now it’s a dumpshow with Brundle running behind random celebs trying to see which one of them annoys him the most. Maybe that’s also something to consider… no more grid walks

      1. @fer-no65 Removing the grid walks would be preferable to removing the random celebs and making the grid walks more race/F1 focused?

        1. @cairnsfella that’s my original point…

  7. Yellow Baron
    20th June 2023, 20:15

    Still a joke that red bull didn’t have this year’s budget reduced by he fine amount or AT LEAST the over spend. Yoke of a penalty

    1. Still a joke that red bull didn’t have this year’s budget reduced by he fine amount or AT LEAST the over spend. Yoke of a penalty

      As I’ve said before the penalty should have been taken out of their budget cap budget and distributed to the other, non-overspending, teams proportional to their ranking in the WCC with the lowest ranked getting the highest percentage.
      That would have given Haas, Alfa Romeo, and Williams somewhere in the region of a million dollars extra to spend on development and RBR 7 million less.
      NB. As a Mercedes fan I should point out that the schema I suggest would have meant Mercedes got virtually nothing.

      As actually done the fine was paid by their external funder and left the team with a totally normal budget and the aero reduction is an item of spend they just push elsewhere in the development costs, or buy some million dollar sandwiches.

  8. Will the ban on tyre warmers see 4 less personnel on the grid per car?

    1. But how will they conceal their choice of tyre to start the race? They’d bring out even more people to stand around the wheels (it’ll never happen anyway because the ban’s going to a vote among the teams)

  9. Tiaki Porangi
    20th June 2023, 20:32

    Can he just go away and never come back into the spotlight please, until his term in office is over and he can disappear?

  10. My nephew is visiting Japan and got tickets to Suzuka, his first F1 race; he’s pretty jazzed. After he got the ticket F1 contacted him and offered him a grid pass for only $50,000 USD.

  11. He just lost his son through tragic circumstances and I saw him laughing and joking on camera recently as if it hadn’t even happened. Money makes people behave strangely.

    1. People deal differently with grieve.

      Trying to shame them into grieving like you would is not helpful to anyone.

  12. Coventry Climax
    20th June 2023, 23:56

    The man’s a liability himself – to human rights. These were his words, ok, some twenty years ago, but still:
    “I do not like women who think they are more intelligent than men, because they are not, in truth”.

    1. Imagine the severely limited intellect necessary to conceive of that as a concept.

      It boggles the mind.

    2. Someone’s definitely still living in the past, but I don’t think it is the person you quoted from 20 years prior.
      You’ve just said a lot more about yourself than anyone else.

      Personally, I’m all for removing people from the grid. There need not be anyone there other than team personnel, media and FIA staff. It’s an absolute mess and only a matter of time before something happens.
      The only reason anyone else is there is for the ‘show’ – so I’m surprised you don’t want them all gone too.

      Reply moderated

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