FOM, Mercedes and Susie Wolff have hit back at the FIA denying the allegations that have instigated the launch of an investigation.
The winter break is here and as usual, it is not short of drama. Business F1 magazine has claimed that rival team bosses had raised concerns that Toto and Susie Wolff were sharing confidential information from their respective employers.
Business F1 magazine has been previously linked to controversies often surrounding women in sports. Despite that, on Tuesday, December 5th, Formula 1’s governing body made an announcement regarding the controversy. The statement mentioned that the compliance department would be looking into the F1 Academy boss and the Mercedes Team Principal.
“The FIA is aware of media speculation centered on the allegation of information of a confidential nature being passed to an F1 team principal from a member of FOM personnel. The FIA Compliance Department is looking into the matter.”2
Toto Allegedly arrived for a recent Team Principal’s meeting with information that could only have come from Formula One Management (FOM). FOM employed Susie Wolff to run the all-female F1 Academy series.
In response to the investigation announcement, Mercedes issued a strong statement:
“We note the generic statement from the FIA this evening, which responds to unsubstantiated allegations from a single media outlet, and the off-record briefing which has linked it to the team principal of Mercedes-AMG F1.
“The team has received no communication from the FIA Compliance Department on this topic and it was highly surprising to learn of the investigation through a media statement. We wholly reject the allegation in the statement and associated media coverage, which wrongly impinges on the integrity and compliance of our team principal [Toto Wolff].
“As a matter of course, we invite full, prompt, and transparent correspondence from the FIA Compliance Department regarding this investigation and its contents.”
FOM also responded with a statement:
“We note the public statement made by the FIA this evening that was not shared with us in advance.
“We have complete confidence that the allegations are wrong, and we have robust processes and procedures that ensure the segregation of information and responsibilities in the event of any potential conflict of interest.
“We are confident that no member of our team has made any unauthorized disclosure to a team principal and would caution anyone against making imprudent and serious allegations without substance.”
Susie Wolff, the main target in this investigation released a strong statement as well:
“I am deeply insulted but sadly unsuprised by the public allegations that have been made this evening.
“It is disheartening that my integrity is being called into question in such a manner, especially when it seems to be rooted in intimidotiry and mysoginistic behaviour and, focused on my marital status rather than my abilities.
“Throughout my career in motorsport, I have encountered and overcome numerous obstacles and I refuse to let these baseless allegations overshadow my dedication and passion for F1 Academy.
“As a woman in this sport, I have faced my fair share of challenges but my commitment to breaing down barriers and paving the way for future generations to succeed remains unwavering.
“In the strongest possible terms, I reject these allegations.”
The credibility of Business F1 magazine is still a matter of debate. However, the alleged complaints of F1 team principals seem to have further enticed the FIA to launch their investigation.
Tensions are rising as there is an uproar on social media platforms. A huge number have shown their support for Susie Wolff. Many are backing her claims that the investigation is in fact “rooted in misogyny.”
Susie Wolff called them man for what they are!!!! Misogynistic!!! 🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️
— deni (@fiagirly) December 5, 2023
The controversy surrounding F1 and the FIA has emerged amidst escalating tensions on multiple fronts.
Reports from various sources during the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP suggested that if FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem continued to conduct himself in a way deemed detrimental to the sport by senior figures, F1 owners Liberty Media’s patience may wear thin. In such a scenario, there is speculation that Liberty Media could contemplate the possibility of breaking away from the FIA.
All this highlights the strain in the relationship between key stakeholders and potential ramifications for the future of F1.
As the winter break kicks off, F1 has barely caught its breath from a long season, with shouts of controversies already riffing through the anticipated calm.