Mohammed Ben Sulayem, president of the FIA, motorsport's governing body, is being investigated for allegedly interfering with a Formula 1 (F1) race result. 

An FIA ethics committee investigation has been reviewing a claim that Ben Sulayem intervened to overturn a penalty handed out to Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso at last year's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Spanish driver had been given a 10-second penalty for work done on his car while he was serving a previous five-second penalty for an incorrect start position after lining up too far to the left of his grid box.

The penalty was imposed because stewards deemed the pit crew broke the rules by working on his car before the initial five-second penalty had elapsed, with the rear jack in contact with Alonso's car.

The allegation made by a whistleblower is that Ben Sulayem called Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa – the FIA's vice-president for sport for the Middle East and North Africa region, who was in Saudi Arabia for the race in an official capacity – and made it clear he thought Alonso's penalty should be revoked.

The 42-year-old Spaniard was only handed the penalty after the race.

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The 10-second penalty meant he dropped to fourth place from third in the race behind Red Bull drivers Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, and Mercedes' George Russell. The withdrawal returned him to a podium position.

Aston Martin appealed the decision and received a right to review on the basis that there had been seven previous examples of a jack touching a car while a penalty was being served that had not been punished. The penalty was removed after Aston Martin successfully argued the team's case to race stewards.

The FIA ethics committee is expected to issue its report in four to six weeks.

This year's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is on Saturday (March 9) in Jeddah.

Ben Sulayem has been embroiled in several controversies since being elected in December 2021.

Last year, it emerged that accusations of sexism were made against him by a former senior employee in 2022.

This came amid concerns around Ben Sulayem’s conduct and style of leadership as FIA president. His relationship with the F1 series has become increasingly strained, with Ben Sulayem having managed to anger series owner Liberty Media, drivers, and the 10 member teams.

In February last year, in the wake of various incidents and public disagreements with F1 and its teams, Ben Sulayem announced he was stepping back from direct involvement in the series.