Wolff, Mercedes reject allegations of alleged conflict of interest in regards to FIA investigation

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Although the 2023 season has drawn to a close in November, the buzz has yet to die down, as the FIA has responded to claims of alleged information swapping going on in the sport.

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

The governing body has released a statement confirming they are opening a compliance investigation into the alleged conflict of interest, given their positions within their respective organisations. Toto and Susie Wolff were officially named by Motorsport Network first as the two people under investigation.

The FIA has issued a statement regarding a story that recently appeared in the latest issue of the Business F1 magazine. The article suggested that the Austrian team boss has access to confidential information regarding FOM (Formula One Management), alleging that the most likely source is his wife, Susie—who, since March of this year, is the managing director of the all-female racing series, F1 Academy, which falls under the FOM umbrella.

In light of the speculation, an FIA spokesperson said: “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.”

According to the report, there is a growing concern about this potential information sharing and the conflict of interest that arises from Wolff’s position as a team principal and his wife’s position as an employee of the Formula One Group. 

The article states that Wolff’s fellow team principals became suspicious after Wolff is said to have inadvertently revealed that he was privy to advance information on an unnamed topic that was being discussed in a meeting at the time.

Mercedes responded with a statement later on Tuesday evening:

“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.

“As a matter of course, we invite full, prompt, and transparent correspondence from the FIA Compliance Department regarding this investigation and its contents.”

Formula 1 also sent out a statement, rejecting what the FIA said and saying the federation hadn’t discussed it with them:

We note the public statement made by the FIA this evening that was not shared with us in advance.

“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 unauthorised disclosure to a team principal, would caution anyone against making imprudent and serious allegations without substance.”

Susie Wolff, Managing Director of F1 Academy, released a strongly-worded statement as well:

“I am deeply insulted but sadly unsurprised 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 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 obstacles and 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 breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations to succeed remains unwavering.

“In the strongest possible terms, I reject these allegations.”