FIA Sporting Director Steve Nielsen quits after less than a year in the role

Spread the love

Earlier this month, the FIA opened a compliance investigation against Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff and his wife Susie Wolff, the director of the F1 Academy over “media speculation centred on the allegation of confidential information being passed to an F1 team principal from a member of FOM personnel”.

However, after both parties vehemently defended themselves in public statements and received support from Formula 1 and its teams, the FIA swiftly concluded the investigation, releasing a second statement just two days after its initiation.

Days later, Deborah Mayer, the head of FIA’s Commission for Women, resigned from her position, and now, less than a year after taking the position, the BBC reports Steve Nielsen has resigned from his position as Sporting Director of the FIA, which oversees Formula 1.

Neilson was appointed back in January 2023 after a lengthy career in the sport and becoming one of its most reputable employees. He was the Sporting Director for the Tyrrell, Benetton, Renault, and Williams teams before joining F1 as Sporting Director in 2017. During his time at Renault, they won the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship in 2005 and 2006.

Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director and Mercedes driver George Russell said Nielsen was “a really great addition” to the FIA’s operations team during this year’s Belgian Grand Prix.

The announcement of his departure was communicated internally on the 21st without delving into the reasons for his departure. However, The BBC suggested he may have been dissatisfied with various aspects of his role, with rumours circulating that he believed the FIA was unwilling to implement necessary adjustments to improve its race-control operations following a spate of controversial decisions in recent years.

Nielsen was not available for comment when BBC Sport reached out to him, but the publication stated that according to F1 insiders who spoke with them, Nielsen believed the FIA was unwilling to make the necessary adjustments to make its race-control operations functional. They also indicated that Nielsen’s departure likely shocked teams and drivers who had supported his decision to join the FIA, expressing concern about potential repercussions.

With two resignations within a span of two weeks and a growing sense of distrust towards the governing body of the sport, the FIA faces a challenging position as the 2024 Formula 1 season approaches.

Photo Credit: Williams Racing