Susie Wolff files criminal complaint against FIA after December statements

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Susie Wolff, Managing Director of the F1 Academy series, former racing driver and partner of Mercedes F1 team principal, Toto Wolff, has taken legal action against the FIA.

Following a media frenzy, claims that F1 teams had complained to the FIA, and several suggestions of a potential breach of confidentiality between Wolff and her husband, the FIA launched an inquiry into the matter in December of 2023.

Both Susie Wolff and Toto Wolff denied these allegations.

Wolff said she was “deeply insulted but sadly unsurprised” by the claims and described the allegations as “intimidatory and misogynistic” in a social media post.

At the time, the FIA had issued a statement claiming: “The FIA is aware of media speculation centred 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.”

Despite this claim, all of Mercedes’ rival F1 teams co-ordinated public statements, noting that they had not complained to the governing body.

The public statements read: “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.

“We are pleased and proud to support F1 academy and its managing director through our commitment to sponsor an entrant in our liveries from next season.”

Following this, the investigation fizzled out quickly and the FIA closed the case, citing that F1’s compliance rules are sufficient safeguards against any wrongdoing, and the case did not warrant a formal investigation. However, for the Wolff’s, the damage had been done, and the need for transparency and accountability remained unmet.

Susie Wolff then took to social media, saying: “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.”

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

With no public apology from the FIA, Wolff took to social media late this evening (March 20th) to announce: “I can confirm that I personally filed a criminal complaint in the French courts on the 4th of March in relation to the statements made about me by the FIA last December.”

“There has still not been any transparency or accountability in relation to the conduct of the FIA and its personnel in this matter.

“I feel more than ever it is important to stand up, call out improper behaviour and make sure people are held to account.

“Whilst some may think silence absolves them from responsibility – it does not.”

Wolff emphasised the importance of standing up against improper behaviour, and this legal move seems to be part of a larger narrative unfolding within the F1 community, with major questions arising about the FIA’s handling of matters such as this and the impact this has on the sport’s integrity.

The FIA’s Ethics Committee and Compliance Officer have been wound up in a series of recent complaints, which have since been cleared.

President Mohammed Ben Sulayem claims that it is not policy to reveal the details of complaints regarding himself, nor the FIA, despite the FIA’s handling of the Wolff situation.

“At the FIA, enquiries and complaints are received and managed by the Compliance Officer, and the Ethics Committee where appropriate.

“Both bodies operate autonomously, guaranteeing strict confidentiality throughout the process.

“As a consequence, and in general, we are unable to confirm the receipt of any specific complaint and it is unlikely that we will be able to provide further comment on the complaints that we may receive from any parties.”

Additionally, the FIA’s actions in Wolff’s case are being scrutinised in contrast to their treatment of allegations recently made against Red Bull Racing Team Principal, Christian Horner.

Allegations by an employee against Horner of inappropriate behaviour prompted an investigation that lasted eight weeks, but the outcome that Red Bull came to cleared Horner of any wrongdoing.

The FIA have upheld a level of confidentiality concerning the Horner allegations, something that was not afforded to the Wolff’s.