Formula 1, Mercedes and Susie Wolff have issued stinging statements in response to the FIA revealing its compliance department will look into a team principal and a member of Formula One Management.
The FIA compliance department is looking into an allegation of “information of a confidential nature being passed to an F1 team principal from a member of FOM personnel”, the world motorsport’s governing body said on Tuesday.
In making this statement, the FIA said it is “aware of media speculation” but would not specify what that was.
It also opted not to identify the team principal or member of FOM.
However, there has only been one unsubstantiated media report relating to the matter in recent days, which implicated Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff and F1 Academy boss Susie Wolff in the same behaviour the generic FIA statement referred to.
That, combined with what the Mercedes F1 team called “the off-record briefing which has linked it to the team principal of Mercedes-AMG F1”, has led to the Wolffs being named as the subjects of the FIA’s investigation and more specific allegations about them being detailed too.
Mercedes says “we wholly reject the allegation in the statement and associated media coverage, which wrongly impinges on the integrity and compliance” of Wolff.
“As a matter of course, we invite full, prompt, and transparent correspondence from the FIA compliance department regarding this investigation and its contents,” Mercedes said.
Both Mercedes and the F1 organisation have made it clear that the FIA’s original statement came out of the blue.
Mercedes says it was “highly surprising to learn of the investigation” this way, having received “no communication from the FIA compliance department on this topic”.
F1, which has been caught out by a unilateral FIA announcement during Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s presidency before, said this statement “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,” the F1 statement read.
“We are confident that no member of our team has made any unauthorised disclosure to a team principal and would caution anyone against making imprudent and serious allegations without substance.”
Susie Wolff said she was “deeply insulted but sadly unsurprised” by the allegations made which she rejects “in the strongest possible terms”.
She described it as “disheartening that my integrity is being called into question in such a manner, especially when it seems to be rooted in intimidatory and misogynistic 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,” she continued.
“As a woman in this sport, I have faced my fair share of challenges but my commitment to breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations to succeed remains unwavering.”