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Formula 1

Mercedes in 'active legal exchange' as FIA fallout escalates

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Toto Wolff and his Mercedes Formula 1 team are in “active legal exchange” with the FIA amid the fallout from a controversial inquiry by the governing body, while Susie Wolff wants to uncover who “instigated this campaign”.

On Thursday evening, the FIA ended a probe into allegations of a conflict of interest and sharing of confidential information between the Wolffs, a process the governing had controversially and publicly started just a couple of days earlier.

A statement issued by Mercedes, which Wolff is team principal and co-owner of, said “we await full transparency about what took place and why, and have expressly reserved all legal rights” and has promised to “address the matter in due course”.

Meanwhile, Formula 1 Academy boss Susie Wolff has criticised the lack of "transparency or accountability" around the FIA’s inquiry, and said her first reaction to seeing the FIA’s conclusion was "Is that it?".

She has claimed the FIA had not contacted her directly at all, and vowed to understand what was really behind this happening in the first place.

“This episode has so far taken place without transparency or accountability,” Susie Wolff said.

“I have received online abuse about my work and my family.

“I will not allow myself to be intimidated and intend to follow up until I have found out who has instigated this campaign and misled the media.”

The FIA did not specify it was about F1 Academy head Susie Wolff and Mercedes F1 team principal Toto, but having already been named in one media report that spread on social media they were subsequently named in other reports that emerged alongside the FIA’s statement that its compliance department was looking into the matter.

Mercedes, the F1 organisation and Susie Wolff all issued statements rejecting the allegations and on Wednesday the other nine teams issued an identical statement saying that they had not made any complaint to the FIA - when the original speculation was that team principals were concerned by the Wolffs’ relationship and respective jobs, and subsequent reports claimed that the FIA had been made aware of those concerns.

The FIA’s Thursday update attempted to draw a line under the saga, stating it was satisfied that the F1 organisations' "compliance management system is robust enough to prevent any unauthorised disclosure of confidential information" and there was no ongoing investigation into any individual.

On Friday Susie Wolff echoed the feeling shared by many that the FIA’s attempted resolution was unsatisfactory, and stated she had not been contacted either.

“For two days, insinuations have been made about my integrity in public and through background briefings, but nobody from the FIA has spoken to me directly,” said Wolff.

“I might have been collateral damage in an unsuccessful attack on somebody else, or the target of a failed attempt to discredit me personally, but I have worked too hard to have my reputation called into question by an unfounded press release.

“We have come a long way as a sport. I was extremely thankful for the unified support of the Formula 1 teams. I have worked with so many passionate women and men at F1 and the FIA, who have the very best interests of our sport at heart.

“What happened this week is simply not good enough. As a sport, we must demand, and we deserve, better.”

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