FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem on Tuesday spoke out against online abuse in the world of motorsport after an FIA commissioner was targeted.

Silvia Bellot became F1 permanent in 2011 (Image credit: @RyanErikKing on twitter)

Silvia Bellot, FIA F1 race steward, has been the victim of online abuse. Bellot received death threats after the United States Grand Prix and his involvement as steward in Fernando Alonso’s post-race penalty. The sanction was later overturned, but that did not stop the abuse Bellot suffered online.

Ben Sulayem issued a statement condemning the online abuse suffered by Bellot as well as the general online motorsport community. He stated:

“Recently, one of the FIA’s female commissioners, Silvia Bellot, was the subject of death threats. It is truly deplorable that a volunteer like Silvia or any of our marshals and officials, who give their time to allow us to go for a run, be the object of such hatred.

“Indeed, a number of FIA employees have also been the target of harassing and hateful messages over the past few years.

“It is completely unacceptable that our volunteers, officials and staff should be subjected to this extreme abuse and it has no place in our sport. It has a devastating effect on our mental health and that of our loved ones.

“I will always stand up for my staff and my volunteers. And let me be clear – without these people there would be no racing. We have to ask ourselves, who would want to become a senior official in this environment? The reality is obvious – if this continues it will destroy our sport.

“As a referee and as a chairman, of course you expect people to disagree with the decisions you make. But you should expect those opinions and comments to be respectful. It is increasingly rare.

“It is only through a collaborative approach that we will achieve some degree of success in combating this blight on our sport.”

Actions the FIA ​​will take:

Ben Sulayem also outlined what the FIA ​​intends to do to try to eliminate abuse.

“We have already initiated this process through the following actions:

See also

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 10: George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes walk in the Paddock during day one of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on March 10, 2022 in Bahrain, Bahrain.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • We have started a dialogue with social media platforms to play their part and we are starting to work with governments and other sports governing bodies to bring them together to make strong commitments for joint action.
  • We commission research through the FIA ​​University on digital hate and sport-specific toxic commentary. This will provide a platform for knowledge sharing, education and prevention.
  • We have partnered with Arwen.ai to use their artificial intelligence software to detect and eradicate abusive content on our own channels.

“In the coming months, we will launch a concerted campaign leveraging the power and reach of our entire federation which comprises 244 motoring and sports organizations in 146 countries across 5 continents.

“This campaign will build on the collaborative work of the FIA ​​and Formula 1 through the Drive It Out initiative. I will talk more about it at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix later this month. »

Ben Sulayem’s final statement:

“Passions run high in sport, but online harassment, abuse and hate speech should not be tolerated. Everyone in our sport, media, teams, drivers and fans has a role to play. We cannot ignore this. I urge the entire motorsport ecosystem to take a stand.

“We have to call him. It has to stop. »

Title image credit: FIA website