Serious conflict of interest allegations made against F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff are steeped in “intimidatory and misogynistic” behaviour, she says.
Toto Wolff, the team principal of Mercedes, and his wife Susie Wolff have become the subject of a compliance investigation by the FIA over the claims.
Mercedes has vehemently denied any wrongdoing by its team principal and F1 has also gone in to bat for the Wolffs.
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Susie Wolff is the managing director of the Formula 4-based, all-female feeder series that F1’s commercial rights holder runs.
The investigation comes after complaints were made to the FIA by other F1 team principals.
It’s said there are concerns Toto Wolff and Susie Wolff are privy to information that is not otherwise available to other team bosses and thus is a conflict of interest.
It’s suggested Toto Wolff has access to confidential knowledge about Formula One Management (FOM) and its activities while Susie Wolff is supposedly briefed on team principal discussions.
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It comes after a report in the BusinessF1 magazine, which alleged Toto Wolff made a passing comment in a team principals’ meeting based on information that supposedly only could have come from FOM.
Although F1 team bosses have not spoken publicly about the issue to date, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been lobbied behind the scenes.
Susie Wolff lashed the allegations in a statement on Wednesday.
“I am deeply insulted but sadly unsurprised by the public allegations that have been made this evening,” she wrote.
“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 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.”
A statement from the sport’s governing body did not directly name Mercedes, Toto Wolff or Susie Wolff but confirmed its compliance department was investigating the allegations.
Mercedes put out its own statement in which it defended its team principal.
“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,” it said.
“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.”
Shortly thereafter, F1 put out a strongly-worded statement in which it took a swipe at the FIA for a lack of communication.
“We note the public statement made by the FIA this evening that was not shared with us in advance,” said F1.
“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 and would caution anyone against making imprudent and serious allegations without substance.”