Netflix rubs its hands with the ‘other’ Formula 1 | Formula 1 | Sports

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One race seems to have been enough to quell all those voices that came up during the three days of preseason testing, and that predicted a much closer championship than the previous two, in which Max Verstappen passed the roller in the best car in all time if we are guided by the string of records left by last year’s RB19. The more than 22 seconds that separated the three-time world champion from Checo Pérez, his neighbor on the energy team, made it clear that the prototype of the red buffalo brand still circulates one or two steps ahead of the rest. If we take as a reference what happened in the last years, it is logical to think that this cushion will go in crescendo with the advancement of the calendar.

There is no worse news than that for a contest that lately is more focused on issues more tangential to purely sporting matters than on what happens on the track. The most specialized fan is likely to regret this trend to the same extent as the least knowledgeable, the one who has arrived attracted by the Netflix bombing and its Drive to Survive, rubs his hands with the future future plots of a documentary that has been mutating into a soap opera. If the accusation of harassment by a Red Bull employee against Christian Horner, its director, marked the inaugural event in Bahrain, the one that will be held a week later at the Jeddah circuit in Saudi Arabia, seven days later, concentrates the focus in the figure of Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

As revealed by the BBC, the FIA ​​ethics committee has opened an investigation to clarify whether its top leader interfered in the final result of last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The information handled by the British chain is based on a report presented by Paolo Bassarri, an official from said department who ensures compliance with the code of ethics in competitions sponsored by the Federation. This document should help to conclude whether Ben Sulayem interceded, through a telephone call to a vice president of the FIA, so that the commissioners deployed to Jeddah would withdraw from Fernando Alonso the ten-second penalty that was initially imposed on the Spaniard, because one of his mechanics touched the Asturian’s Aston Martin before the five seconds that had previously been given to him had elapsed, for not having properly positioned himself on the starting grid. The ten-second penalty led to him losing third place, although the punishment and its consequences were only in effect for three hours.

But there is more. Hours after the BBC made the case public, the same medium warned of another alleged episode in which the Qatari executive had tried to influence directly. In this second matter, which is also under the scrutiny of the FIA ​​ethics commission, a source whose identity has not been revealed has reported having received instructions from Sulayem with the purpose of torpedoing the homologation of the Las Vegas street circuit. , which returned to the schedule in 2023, citing issues regarding the safety of the facility. Despite this, and always according to the report to which the BBC has had access, those in charge of certifying the standards of the layout gave the go-ahead.

Pending further events that will almost certainly take place in the coming hours in Jeddah, if there is one thing that seems evident it is that the relationship between the FIA ​​and the FOM, the arm of Liberty Media that exploits the commercial rights to the World Cup, is not goes through a placid stage. Much less for Ben Sulayem, who has not stopped being in the pillory since he took office to replace Jean Todt, at the end of 2021. Shortly after taking office, the Qatari had to face some sexist comments his own taken from the newspaper archive, and more recently he played a leading role in the disagreement over the eventual entry of a new team (Andretti). To all this is now added something much more gloomy and which, if confirmed, could have consequences for the head of the body who, on paper, must ensure compliance with the agreed legal framework. With all this gibberish, the rides of Verstappen and Red Bull seem to matter little, especially for Netflix.

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