The International Automobile Federation (FIA, its abbreviation in French) held an election this Friday that defined the new management of motor sport’s main regulatory body in the world. United Arab Emirates native Mohamed Ben Sulayem was elected the new president after 12 years taking over from Frenchman Jean Todt.
Todt completed his third and final term as FIA president this year, the maximum allowed by the association’s bylaws, and will now hand over 60-year-old Sulayem to motorsport command following an election at the General Assembly, in which he defeated Graham Stoker. , who was the candidate for the position, being the sports vice president of the Todd administration, won with 61.6% of the vote.
A Twitter post from the former rally driver’s team said everyone is excited to build a stronger FIA. “We are thrilled that 62% of all clubs have cast their vote for us. We are truly honored. Your support will help us build a stronger union,” the publication said.
Prior to switching from cars to administrative positions, the Emirati had a long career as a rally driver, winning 14 times in the FIA-sanctioned Middle East Rally Championship. He was the first Arab elected to the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council, having previously served as Vice President of Sport in the Federation.
In 2009, Sulayem also oversaw the inclusion of the Abu Dhabi GP, United Arab Emirates, in the Formula 1 calendar, in addition to its first edition.
His election marks an unprecedented moment in the history of the FIA, being the first non-European to hold the top spot and gaining the support of national associations important in his campaign, such as the United Kingdom.
Sulayem felt there was a need to expand the sport, make it more accessible across the world, encourage regional championships that help bring young talent into racing. “I intend to create better and more accessible routes for young riders,” he told the Motosport.com website in July. “That’s change. You can’t repeat what the previous president did, because it won’t work. The challenges are different.”