Nielsen quits Sporting Director role with FIA

Nielsen quits Sporting Director role with FIA


The FIA’s Sporting Director, Steve Nielsen has quit less than a year after taking on the role.

Nielsen’s appointment was announced in late January as part of a restructuring following Mohammed ben Sulayem’s review of the organisation’s internal procedures.

The restructuring saw Nikolas Tombazis, who had led the FIA’s Formula 1 technical team since 2018 and overseen the development and implementation of the 2022 rules overhaul, taking on a more transversal role as Single Seater Director.

Reporting to him would be Sporting, Technical, Financial and Strategy & Operations Directors, with Nielsen taking on the role of Sporting Director, making him responsible for overseeing all sporting matters including the ongoing development of Race Control and the Remote Operations Centre, as well as future updates to the Sporting Regulations.

“I have spent my professional life working for many teams and organisations in Formula 1, and cannot wait to engage with another new chapter with the FIA,” said Nielsen, who had begun his F1 career with Lotus before joining Tyrrell. He then joined Benetton, and following spells with Honda and Arrows, subsequently returned to Enstone rejoining Benetton as its Sporting Director as it morphed into Renault and then Lotus Renault.

In 2017, he was recruited by former colleague Ross Brawn to the role of Sporting Director at F1 following Liberty Media’s successful buy-out of the sport.

“I understand and appreciate the unique challenges that come with being the regulator,” added Nielsen at the time of his FIA appointment. “Having worked closely with a number of people in the Federation over the years, I’m looking forward to tackling those challenges that lie ahead with them. Formula 1 is in a great place at the moment, and it’s our responsibility to ensure the future health of the sport that is at the heart of everything we do.”

His move to the FIA had the backing of teams and drivers, and his decision to quit is unlikely to go down well within the paddock, thereby heaping further pressure on Ben Sulayem.

His departure, which, it is claimed, is due to the FIA being unwilling to make the changes he felt were necessary in order to make its race-control operations fit for purpose, comes weeks after Deborah Mayer resigned from her position as head of the FIA’s commission for women.

Nielsen was largely responsible for putting together the schedule that got the sport through the nightmare of 2020 when it was the only global sport to get underway during the Covid nightmare.

With his historic ties to F1 bosses, and not forgetting this month’s saga involving the Wolffs, a sceptic might come to the conclusion that Nielsen’s move forms part of a grand plan to unseat Ben Sulayem in preparation for installing a more ‘F1 friendly’ president.

As ever, some may well think that, we couldn’t possibly comment.


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