Former Mercedes lawyer Shaila-Ann Rao leaves FIA

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Shaila-Ann Rao, the lawyer who joined the FIA from Mercedes earlier this year and was a key figure in the cost cap investigation into Red Bull, has left her interim position at the governing body.

Rao, who worked as the FIA's legal director between 2016 and 2018, returned to the governing body in June this year as Interim Secretary General for Motor Sport, taking over the role of Peter Bayer, who had led the investigation into the controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi in 2021.

The FIA said she was brought in to assist the transition between former FIA president Jean Todt and new president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and will now leave the role as the F1 season has finished.

Due to her previous association with Mercedes, Rao became a controversial figure when the FIA launched its investigation into Red Bull's breach of the 2021 cost cap.

Rao, along with the FIA's head of financial regulations, Federico Lodi, and single-seater technical head, Nikolas Tombazis, conducted the investigation and settled on an Accepted Breach Agreement with Red Bull, which saw the team fined $7 million and lose 10 percent of its aerodynamic testing allowance for 12 months.

In a press conference last weekend in Abu Dhabi, Ben Sulayem denied accusations Rao was in any way biased during the investigation and claimed she believed Red Bull's penalty was too harsh.

"When it comes to Shaila-Ann there was an accusation in the news that she is a supporter of Mercedes," the FIA president said. "Actually, when the penalties were there and both teams, she said it was a bit harsh.

"I looked at her and said, 'My god, and there is someone who is accusing her of being with Mercedes and she is saying it [the penalty] is being harsh on Red Bull'."

In a statement on Wednesday, which confirmed Rao was leaving the FIA, Ben Sulayem added: "On behalf of everyone at the FIA, I would like to thank Shaila-Ann for her invaluable contribution in her role as Interim Secretary General for Motor Sport during an important transitional phase for the organisation.

"In particular, Shaila-Ann has provided me with great support in respect to Formula One, always acting with professionalism and integrity."