Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said reports of multiple complaints from teams against Mercedes are “nothing to do with Red Bull.”
The FIA released a statement on Tuesday night confirming they would be investigating allegations “of information of a confidential nature being passed to an F1 team principal from a member of FOM personnel”, with BusinessF1 magazine claiming this centred around Mercedes team principal and CEO Toto Wolff, and F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff.
Mercedes swiftly released a statement of their own wholeheartedly denying the “unsubstantiated allegations” from the media outlet, while Susie Wolff called the allegations “intimidatory and misogynistic” in her response.
Christian Horner: FIA statement ‘certainly wasn’t instigated’ by Red Bull
In a further development, a source told PlanetF1.com that multiple team principals had filed complaints to the FIA regarding the recent report, which in turn is reported to have triggered the FIA investigation.
Speaking on Wednesday, Horner was asked if Red Bull had done so against their long-time rivals.
He flatly denied involvement from the Red Bull and AlphaTauri group, saying he was “surprised” by the FIA statement, adding that the support that the team has shown the F1 Academy is among the highest of any team in the paddock.
“We have a big rivalry on track, but we haven’t raised any official complaint either about Susie or Toto or Mercedes to the FIA,” Horner said to Sky Sports News.
“In fact, Red Bull has been the team that has got most involved with Formula 1 Academy from its inception, to the point that between the two Red Bull-owned teams we’ll be entering three cars.
“So we’ve been working closely with Susie, who’s been doing a great job on Formula 1 Academy.
“So I think we, like others, were quite surprised at the statement that came out last night, but it certainly wasn’t instigated or required or set off by Red Bull.”
When pressed for absolute confirmation that anyone at Red Bull and AlphaTauri has raised concerns to the FIA about a potential conflict of interest, Horner was adamant from the perspective of his team.
“We’ve not raised any official complaints or made any requests to the FIA or to FOM [Formula One Management],” he reiterated.
“As far as the other teams are concerned, I can’t talk on behalf of others.
“This is an FIA thing. It’s based, they’ve taken this action but as I say, certainly nothing to do with Red Bull.”
In Mercedes’ statement on Tuesday night, they said: “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 [Toto Wolff].
“As a matter of course, we invite full, prompt, and transparent correspondence from the FIA Compliance Department regarding this investigation and its contents.”
FOM, who run the F1 Academy series that Susie Wolff oversees, said they received no advance warning of the FIA’s statement either, providing in their own statement to PlanetF1.com: “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 and would caution anyone against making imprudent and serious allegations without substance.”