The goings-on between the FIA and Mercedes took a new twist on Friday, with the team exploring legal avenues – as one of the key headlines from Friday’s F1 news.
The FIA have not commented on this development at time of writing, with the team having confirmed they are in “active legal exchange” with motorsport’s governing body.
Away from that, we have exclusive chats with Christian Horner and Johnny Herbert to bring you – all part of Friday’s F1 news selection.
Toto Wolff confirms ‘active legal exchange’ with FIA
Mercedes team principal confirmed the Silver Arrows are now in ‘active legal exchange’ with the FIA after announcing an investigation earlier in the week, which was quickly withdrawn.
The investigation concerned a team principal and FOM official which was reported by a single outlet to be Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and his wife, F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff.
Mercedes and Susie Wolff denounced any claims against them swiftly, and all nine of Mercedes’ rivals released a joint statement saying they did not complain to the FIA about a potential conflict of interest.
As such, Mercedes are now exploring their avenues, with Toto Wolff saying on Friday: “We understand that there is significant media interest in the events of this week.
“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 be addressing the matter in due course.”
Susie Wolff responds to FIA statement
Prior to Mercedes’ announcement, Susie Wolff took to social media to respond to the FIA announcing the end to its investigation, in which it placed its trust in FOM’s processes.
“When I saw the statement issued by the FIA yesterday, my first reaction was ‘is that it?’,” she wrote.
“For two days, insinuations have been made about my integrity in public and through background briefings, but nobody from the FIA spoken to me directly.
“I might have been collateral damage in an unsuccessful attempt on somebody or the target of failed attempt to discredit me personally, but I’ve worked too hard to have my reputation called into question by an unfounded press release.
“We’ve come along way as a sport. I was extremely thankful for the unified support of the Formula 1 teams, I’ve worked so many passionate women and men at F1 and the FIA, who have the very best interests of our sport at heart.
“However, this episode has so far taken place without transparency or accountability. I received online abuse about my work and my family I will not allow myself to be intimidated and intend to follow up until I have found out who has instigated this campaign and misled the media.
“What happened this week is simply not good enough. As a sport, we must demand, and we deserve, better.”
Lewis Hamilton throws weight of support behind Susie Wolff at FIA Prize Giving Gala
Lewis Hamilton was in Baku for the FIA Prize Giving Gala after finishing third in the Drivers’ Championship, but threw his support behind Susie Wolff after what he called “unacceptable” treatment in recent days.
“It’s been a challenging week, a disappointing week, really, to see that the governing body of our sport has sought to question the integrity of one of the most incredible female leaders we’ve ever had in our sport in Susie Wolff without questioning, without any evidence,” Hamilton told reporters in Azerbaijan.
“And then just saying ‘sorry’ at the end, and that’s just unacceptable.
“We’ve got a lot of great people within the sport that are doing amazing work. There is a constant fight to really improve diversity and inclusion within the industry, but seems there are certain individuals in the leadership of the FIA that every time we try and make a step forward they are trying to pull us back, and that has to change.”
Exclusive: Johnny Herbert highlights Ferrari duo for success next to Red Bull
Having finished behind Red Bull and Mercedes this year, Johnny Herbert has faith in both Ferrari drivers to put it all together at the team if they can produce the car to match their talents.
“I think the one who’s got the driver pair, and I really do like they have the right mentality, that’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz,” Herbert exclusively told PlanetF1.com when asked who could be Red Bull’s biggest threat.
“Ferrari have had in the last couple of years a car that probably could have, should have, won the Championship, but through various reasons, it never quite came together.
“And that’s where you have had the likes of Mercedes in the past, it all comes together. You’ve got it this year [with Red Bull]. It’s every single element coming together.”
Exclusive: Christian Horner will ‘keep trying to improve’ for 2024
We recently caught up with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner to discuss his off-season plans, and what he potentially might expect from his team as they look to build on a record-breaking year.
“It’s always nice to reflect on being champions,” Horner exclusively told PlanetF1.com.
“We only finished last weekend so it’s a good chance to hopefully look back and celebrate what we achieved this year.
“Whether you’re a hunter or the hunted it’s just about focusing on yourself and keep trying to improve.”