FIA investigate Wolff conflict of interest

2021 British Grand Prix, Friday - Steve Etherington

The FIA announced it is investigating complaints from team principals about a potential conflict of interest concerning Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and his wife, susie Wolff.

It was reported in the BusinessF1 magazine stated that Toto has access to confidential knowledge about activities Formula One Management (FOM) is engaged via his wife’s role as managing director of the F1 Academy.

The suggestion is that in this role, Susie is privy to confidential information about FOM and according to the report, Toto was to have made a statement during a team principal meeting about information that would only have come from FOM and which she would have been privy too.

As such, the complaint is that other team bosses don’t have this level of access to FOM activities and thus, a conflict of interest.

The FIA have launched an investigation saying:

“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.”

This didn’t sit well with Mercedes or Susie Wolff as both camps released statements:

Mercedes:

“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.”

While Susie released a pointed statement offering misogyny as the motivating factor for this complaint and investigation:

“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 behavior, 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.”
The allegations of potential pillow talk are serious as are the concerns, if true, and one might have considered this potential risk before offering the position to Susie given her husband is a team boss. To suggest that Susie would share internal conversations from FOM is to immune her integrity while others consider their marriage as a situation that could lend itself to accidental or other information sharing.

Two very defensive response from the Wolff/Mercedes camp but that’s not all, apparently FOM have now weighed in too.

“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.”

In her capacity as managing director of F1 Academy, Susie reports directly to Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of FOM.

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Fabio

Remember when Toto knew that RBR had exceeded the cost cap before anybody else? He even knew by how much. If I remember correctly, his personal lawyer happened to be working with the FIA at the time and somehow Toto found out about the cost cap.
I’m not suggesting there’s been pillow talk with Susie, but there is a history here.

garyshavit

I don’t see a problem of ‘conflict of interest’ here. I can’t imagine Susie Wolf spying on the FIA for Mercedes or influencing the FIA in favor of Mercedes. Though it could be perceived that Mrs. Toto Wolf is part of the ‘old boys club’, despite being female and highly qualified.
But I think that Fabio’s recollection might give a hint as to which team is lying about not being the one who complained. Maybe the FIA could appoint a new ‘CEO of Music’? How about a former Spice Girl?

Xean Drury

Here’s a crazy idea for the FOM: Don’t hire a team principal’s wife? No matter how buttoned they may try, tid bits are bound to tumble from time to time.