(Motorsports news) On Tuesday, motor racing’s governing body announced that it was looking into an alleged conflict of interest regarding the transfer of confidential information between the Mercedes’ team principal and FOM employee. Although the FIA did not mention names, it was widely understood that this was Toto and Susie Wolff, who is managing director of the F1 Academy series.
In its statement, the FIA said that its compliance investigation was prompted by speculation in the media, which referred to an article in the BusinessF1 magazine, while sources at the governing body indicated that there had been complaints from team principals. However, it doesn’t seem that the team leaders had any objections, as all of Mercedes’ competitors have stated that they had no involvement in any complaints.
In an attempt to demonstrate solidarity with Susie Wolff in particular, the teams released nearly similar comments on Wednesday night stating that the FIA proceedings were not initiated by them. “We can confirm that we have not made any complaint to the FIA regarding the allegation of information of a confidential nature being passed between an F1 Team Principal and a member of FOM staff,” the statement read, slightly edited to include the names of some of the teams.
“We are happy and proud to support the managing director of F1 Academy by agreeing to sponsor a competitor wearing our liveries starting in the upcoming season.” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who is well-known for having had difficult relationships with Toto Wolff in the past, also stated earlier in the day that his team had not filed any formal complaints with the FIA.
“Look, we have a big rivalry on track, but we haven’t raised any official complaints, either about Susie or Toto or Mercedes to the FIA,” Horner stated in an interview with Sky Sports News. Since the beginning of F1 Academy, Red Bull has actually been the team with the greatest involvement; in fact, between the two Red Bull-owned teams, three cars will be entered. Susie has been collaborating closely with us and doing a fantastic job on F1 Academy.
Therefore, I believe that the statement that was released last night startled us as much as it did others. However, Red Bull did not initiate, mandate, or trigger it. Teams’ nearly unprecedented cooperation in responding to the allegations will probably put more pressure on the FIA to provide an explanation for why it decided to involve the compliance department.
Despite the FIA’s decision to issue a media statement on Tuesday night, it is believed that Mercedes had not yet received any official mail from the agency addressing the probe as of Wednesday evening. Mercedes refuted the accusations made against Wolff in a forcefully worded statement released on Tuesday night, and it sought complete transparency regarding the situation from the FIA.
“We invite full, prompt, and transparent correspondence from the FIA Compliance Department regarding this investigation and its contents,” the statement continued.