Ben Sulayem shoots down ‘Shaila-Ann Rao – Mercedes bias’ allegations

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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem responds to Red Bull cost cap breach leak accusations and dismisses theories that Toto Wolff’s former advisor Shaila-Ann Rao is favouring Mercedes.

News of Red Bull’s 2021 cost cap breach have started making the rounds at the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix, more than a week before the breach was officially revealed by the FIA.

This led Red Bull to accuse the FIA of leaking information, more precisely, there have been insinuations that Toto Wolff’s former special advisor Shaila-Ann Rao, who is currently serving as FIA’s interim Secretary General for Motorsport, was the source of the alleged leak.

Recently there have been talks that Rao is soon going to step down from her role, so FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem was asked to give his comments.

“Her position is interim secretary general, and the ‘interim’, what does ‘interim’ mean?” Ben Sulayem asked rhetorically.

“Shaila-Ann has been supportive a lot to me. You see her intelligence when it comes to setting big decisions for me.

“I’ll be very honest with you, and I’ll defend my opinion, but when it comes to Shaila-Ann, there were accusations that she is mainly a supporter of Mercedes.

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“But actually, when the [cost cap] penalties were there with both teams, she said that’s a bit harsh from me.

“I looked and said: ‘My god, there is someone who is accusing her of being with Mercedes, and she’s saying to me that it’s harsh on Red Bull.’”

Asked if he is concerned that the news of Red Bull’s cost cap breach came out before the official announcement, Ben Sulayem explained:

“On the leak, we were in Austria, we were having the F1 Commission meeting, and while we were talking about it, it was already in the news.

“It’s frustrating sometimes, because before you’ve finished your meeting, something has got out,” FIA’s president concluded.

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