Toto Wolff, Mercedes, 2023

Mercedes considering legal action following dropped FIA investigation

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Mercedes is considering its legal options after the FIA announced, then swiftly dropped, an investigation which allegedly involved its team principal Toto Wolff.

The FIA announced on Tuesday its Compliance division was looking into whether confidential information had been exchanged between an F1 team principal and a member of Formula One Management. Two days later it issued a further statement saying no investigation was ongoing.

The investigation followed the publication of an unbylined magazine article which made claims regarding Wolff and his wife, F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff. Other publications repeated several of its allegations.

After the investigation was announced, the pair, along with FOM, swiftly issued a statement denying any wrongdoing. The following day, all nine of Mercedes’ rival teams denied having made complaints to the FIA, as media reports elsewhere claimed some had done.

Following the FIA’s confirmation yesterday that the investigation is no longer proceeding, Toto Wolff said in a statement today Mercedes are considering their legal options.

“We understand that there is significant media interest in the events of this week,” said Wolff. “We are currently in active legal exchange with the FIA. We await full transparency about what took place and why, and have expressly reserved all legal rights.

“Therefore we ask for your understanding that we will not be commenting officially for now, but we will certainly address the matter in due course.”

Shortly before Wolff’s statement was issued, Susie Wolff criticised the FIA’s handling of the investigation and claimed she had been either “the target of a failed attempt to discredit me personally” or “collateral damage in an unsuccessful attack on somebody else.”

Mercedes is due to be represented at the end-of-season FIA Gala today by Lewis Hamilton. It will be his first appearance at the event since 2020, as he did not finish in the championship top three last year, and refused to attend in 2021 amid the fall-out over FIA race director Michael Masi’s mishandling of that year’s final race in which he lost the world championship.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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45 comments on “Mercedes considering legal action following dropped FIA investigation”

  1. Will there also be an investigation by FIA and FOM after Toto Wolff made his abhorrent comments about former F1 Race Director Michael Masi and calling him “an idiot”? Such behaviour has no place in the sport, especially after last year when ‘Drive It Out’ campaign has been launched!

    The Formula 1 community, including all 20 drivers, Formula 1 CEO and President Stefano Domenicali and FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has come together to deliver a strong message to ‘Drive Out’ any form of abuse, online and at events, and call for greater respect.

    1. That’s different…

      Apparently!

      1. This comment is like peak outrage culture. Ooh big bad team boss call error prone race director an idiot. He really bad oh no

    2. To be fair.. the FIA and FOM dodged a massive lawsuit at the end of the 2021 season by Mercedes. I believe that Toto has the right to call Masi whatever he wants.. FIA and FOM will just take it on the chin and move on.

  2. Where there’s Smoke there’s Fire !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. What Mercedes has to do is explain how it is possible that her team manager’s wife works for the owner of the competition and her husband behaves as if he were the county sheriff. If your wife has access to all the confidential information about the rest of the teams participating in the competition, one of two, either you are not the director of a team or she does not work for the owner of the competition.

    1. His wife works in a department unrelated to F1.

      1. Who is her boss in this unrelated department?

        1. @floodo1 The FIA President of the day.

      2. Yeah unrelated to F1…
        > Runs a series using the F1 name.
        > Is paid for by F1.
        > F1 Teams are required to back a driver in it.
        > F1 Teams are required to run their liveries on cars competing in it.

        So next year, S. Wolff be running a series featuring a junior driver from the team T. Wolff owns. Not a conflict at all…

    2. You need to pay attention because you’re wrong.

    3. Paul, I’m struggling to see what chain of events were being investigted here. I thought the Red Bull accounts went to the FIA for budget cap ratification. If that is so, how did they find their way to anyone at FOM before they were published? Surely that is what the FIA should have investigted?

      1. That’s probably why Shaila-Ann Roa, Wolff former legal advisor, has been removed from her position at the FIA.

        1. She wasn’t removed she left of her own accord. More romour and innuendo.

          1. The FIA also confirmed that Michael Masi has decided to leave the FIA and relocate to Australia to be closer to his family and take on new challenges :)

            She played a central role in two significant leaks. The first involves the planned introduction of technical directive TD039 during the 2022 Canadian GP, and the second is related to the RBR breach of the budget cap. Regardless of whether she acted as the whistleblower, being at the epicenter of controversies compelled the FIA to dismiss her from her position, as revealed by Dieter Rencken.

          2. Nope Masi was fired from being race director after the investigation. They just kept saying he would get a new role but it was a smoke screen till it calmed down then the FIA president ( joke) made out it was the fans fault! Yeah right!

          3. You have no proof of any of your findings just spouting rubbish hoping something will stick Hilarious!

    4. I agree and this reaction has written guilt or at least entitlement all over it. And before he had Shaila Ann at FIA.. it is time that this is all put to an end. I know they desperately trying to win, but some ethics should be taken into account in this pursuit.

      1. I know they desperately trying to win, but some ethics should be taken into account in this pursuit.

        I assume the “they” you are referring to here is Mercedes, so does that mean you are also branding them guilty on the basis of an anonymous rumour?

    5. In other news, the earth is flat, the moon landings were a hoax, Jesus rode a Dinosaur to work with Fred Flintstone, and your tinfoil cap is too tight.

      Now, I can’t back up any of those statements, and I don’t think you can back up yours either.

    6. That is not for Mercedes to explain, it is for FOM/F1 to explain. They were the ones that employed someone with immediate links to a current Team Principal, CEO & shareholder of a F1 team and ignored the glaringly obvious conflict of interest.

      I sense that is part of the reason F1 has pushed the nonsense misogyny angle and forced the teams to release the statement from FOM HQ is because they know they messed up and didn’t perform enough due diligence prior to hiring Susie. Especially when you factor in Susie will be overseeing a series that in 2024 will be featuring a Mercedes junior driver driving a car featuring a Mercedes livery.

      It was really, really, really dumb for them so hire a person with such an obvious link to anyone with F1, F2 or F3. It was just asking for trouble. Especially to spouse of one of the two to most obnoxious F1 team principals.

  4. This sport just has to keep some news even in the off season right?

    1. The fans do a great job also. Just look at the first comment. Anyway what a joke all of F1 is.

  5. Good the FIA are corrupt under Ben S, its worse than Blatter at the FA. Mercedes rep has been tarnished and its blatant libellous comments. Throwing around dud grenades hoping for them to explode but the FIA gets the blow back from it instead. What with Massa trying to over turn a championship he believes he won when he didn’t its going to be expensive for the FIA. My guess is Ben S is going to be replaced real soon with a vote of no confidence. Nothing but controversy has happened since he has entered F1.

    1. That would imply Mercedes has anything that comes close to a good rep left. Which it hasn’t.

      1. @duuxdeluxe At this rate of knots, it might be better than Ben Sulayem’s, which is the more relevant factor.

      2. Only haters and trolls beleive that, which are you ?

    2. Given the FIA only stated that a team principal and a FOM staff member were being investigated for a potential breach, and did not name a single person, how exactly did it harm Mercedes’ reputation? The Wolffs are the ones that named themselves as the ones being investigated in their totally not incriminating “it wasn’t us gov, honest” statements.

      Given Toto has on numerous occasions given plenty of reason to suspect he has been receiving insider information, is there really any surprise that yet another reported incident of him having information prompted an investigation? Susie may be innocent on this occasion, but she did herself no favours by responding in such an attacking manor.

      Susie’s wording in her statement was oddly combative, rather than defensive, which usually points towards someone not being entirely innocent. Those with nothing to hide don’t need to attack.

  6. Regardless of whether there was a leak of information on Susie’s part, it’s evident that Wolff is engaged in a proxy war against the FIA on behalf of F1. His failed attempt to influence the governing body was thwarted with the removal of his legal advisor Shaila-Ann Rao.

    It’s worth noting that he has positioned his wife in F1 and regularly participates in public and even private gatherings involving Domenicali, the F1 CEO. Additionally, Wolff had previously sought the top position in F1, before being vetoed by Ferrari, and now presents himself as a champion of integrity.

    Let’s not forget that he still own shares in Williams as a result of an unfinished transaction… Not to mention the manner in which he bought his way into the sport dealing with people like Bernie Ecclestone and Colin Kolles. It’s time for this megalomaniac to get a reality check.

    1. It is. But not through unfounded or invented accusations and an investigation that is leaked to the press. F1 (not only Wolff) and Liberty have way to much power, but this amateurish attempt to put them back into place is not only low, but does fire back and weakens the position of FIA further.

      1. I never endorsed targeting someone with false claims. However, Wolff, in his usual politicized manner, seems to be leveraging this situation to deflect attention from his apparent conflict of interests.

    2. @tifoso1989, it is clear you are not a fan of the man, but without supplying sources this all reads like a bit too much hearsay and connecting dots that are not in evidence, what is this based on?

    3. Total rubbish

    4. You know you’re in danger of committing libel, yes?

  7. Eventually, Red Bull will be found to have been somehow connected to this mess.
    You’ll see.
    Horner and Marko…..

    1. So your reaction to there being fraudulent claims is to create some of your own because you don’t like two people from a different team? How ironic.

      1. Like you did above hypocrite

    2. Of course they are. They are part of F1 and Liberty who are in a struggle against FIA. That’s why they side with Mercedes as all other teams did.

    3. Not if Cosy Ben S has anything to do with it

  8. As governing body it is painful if a team or team boss communicates matters before the governing body has had a chance to do so or even finish their processes. Painful as it undermines the process, the fairness of its outcome and the standing of the organisation. It is al deflected now to a who accused whom etc, but this is all defence politics to deviate attention from the issue. The issue at hand is still there no matter who complained. Sheila-Ann Rao was in a dubious triangle between Toto and FIA and now so is Susie. I am aware all the organisations involved are not democratic organisations so I guess they feel they can do whatever they want FIFA-like (and blatantly apparent Toto does) but as spectator I do have an opinion on integrity of the people involved and find it a pity some are around. Especially since they influence the sport and some of the sportsmen in it. It rubs off on people who used to be much more cheerful and constructive.

    1. The FIA posted a statement before either Susie Wolff or Toto Wolff publicly commented on any of this so I can’t take serious your ‘interference’ argument. That the Mercedes team responded publicly with a lawyers’ statement was in reaction to an article and rumours which were widely reported inside the F1 press (like on this website).
      It also forced FOM (a publicly traded company, who were directly implicated to have a lacking information regime internally allowing for a leak in the 1st place) to react.

      The original story also forced a reaction from the teams to address the ‘complaints from an f1 team’ bit, though admittedly the uniform nature of that statement is more significant in what it says about the team/FOM vs FIA relation.

      The most painful thing about this matter was that apparently w/o proper procedure, some half-started (if that) investigation was started and leaked before it produced anything of substance, but publicly implicating several people, followed by a formal statement of the FIA that was very dismissive of any problem existing that warranted an investigation in the first place, no relevant evidence found and any investigation stopped after noting publicly that yes FOM does have guidelines for disclosure between its staff and teams.

      Does that mean nothing could have been up? Nope, but not enough substance to risk FOM having to go to court over their role. And even so, with those rumors which were clearly personally damaging for Susie Wolff’s reputation as well as Toto’s (just see your post as well as several others here: anonymous posters don’t do damage directly, but causing a swell of them as well as F1/motorsport media to be reporting about them might go into that territory) they got the Merecedes team and the Wolff’s personally to take legal action. Seems altogether very badly handled from the FIA even if they had some reason for worry.

  9. I was encouraged by the speed with which the investigation into the Wolvves reached its conclusion. It was almost as quick as the result of the Austrian Grand Prix.

    1. Not sure why you considering it encouraging.

      If it took them no time at all to reach a conclusion, then the question is why they even started an investigation. Was there actual evidence, or did they react to gossip?

      And if there was evidence, then how could they have finished so quickly?

      1. I don’t think Bullfrog’s comments were serious…

  10. Regardless of anybody’s personal opinion of Toto and Susie Wolff (and there seem to be plenty of opinions), Mohammed Ben Sulayem and the FIA have made a pig’s ear of this. Why on earth did they go so public before establishing the basic facts? This could have all been conducted behind closed doors until a real issue was discovered, but they decided to broadcast it to the World! Its highly noticeable that all the other teams have completely distanced themselves from the whole mess.

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