Concern over FIA ‘repeating pattern’ as Toto Wolff reacts to high-profile exits

Henry Valantine
The FIA logo. February 2008.

The logo of the FIA displayed.

Toto Wolff has voiced his concerns after three high-profile figures at the FIA left the governing body in quick succession.

Sporting director Steve Nielsen, technical director Tim Goss and Deborah Mayer, the head of the FIA’s commission for women, all departed within the space of a few weeks over December.

While replacements have since been announced, turnover at the top level of the governing body has raised eyebrows among the paddock – with the Mercedes team boss explaining that “stability” is key.

Toto Wolff: ‘You have to ask yourself why so many have left’ the FIA

Wolff explained that the governing body has seen “people of experience and quality” leave recently, which cannot be a good thing for the sport.

When that happens, it is possible that a “vacuum” could be created.

“I think the FIA has many important tasks as an institution, the first of which is to govern with ethics, transparency and integrity,” Wolff said to Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“This includes how you run the sport together with F1 and the teams, but also how the rules are set and controlled.

“In the end we all have to share the same goal: to make F1 even bigger in the world. For that to happen you need stability.

“It is not a good thing when people of experience and quality leave. Steve Nielsen, who knows the sport from every angle, left, and that’s a bad blow. Then Tim Goss left, and in this way Nikolas Tombazis loses a very good lieutenant. And still others have resigned.

“As teams we cannot do anything about it: it is not up to us to decide how people manage their staff and their structure.

“But when all of a sudden such good people leave an organisation you create a vacuum, it’s clear. You have to ask yourself why so many have left and have done so now.” recommends

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When asked whether or not it’s a question of the FIA’s leadership on the matter, Wolff said the governing body needs to remain “stable and safe” as Formula 1 continues to grow around the world.

He added it “worries” him to see these departures, and that his colleagues are seeing this as an issue.

“FIA is one of the three key components of the sport, and the leaders of these organisations have to set the standard that then applies to everyone else,” the Mercedes team principal and CEO said.

“It means ethics, transparency in behaviour, and you can never lower the bar. There is huge investment in F1 from car industries around the world: for the future we need to see a sport that grows stable and safe, and act with these values in mind.

“The Federation is a historic organisation that plays an important role; it worries to see so many people leaving. Many behind the scenes are starting to see this as a repeating pattern.”

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