FIA reach verdict after Toto Wolff, Fred Vasseur summoned to stewards in Abu Dhabi

Oliver Harden
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff pulling a face while being interviewed.

Toto Wolff pulling a face.

Toto Wolff and Fred Vasseur, the team bosses of Mercedes and Ferrari respectively, have been issued formal warnings by the FIA stewards in Abu Dhabi following a heated press conference at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Wolff and Vasseur both cut frustrated figures in the team representatives’ press conference in Vegas, which took place shortly after the opening practice session in Nevada.

FP1 was cut short after just eight minutes when Carlos Sainz hit a loose drain cover, causing huge damage to his Ferrari, with an annoyed Vasseur unforthcoming to questions posed by press conference host Tom Clarkson.

Toto Wolff, Fred Vasseur head to the FIA stewards after Vegas rants

Sainz was forced to serve a 10-place grid penalty following the incident after replacing damaged parts, with many expressing sympathy regarding Ferrari’s situation.

Wolff later exploded into an expletive-ridden rant after it was claimed that the shortened FP1 session was a “black eye” for F1 upon its first visit to Vegas in four decades.

Wolff and Vasseur both visited the stewards at 1700 local time in Abu Dhabi and got away with a formal warning.

Regarding Wolff, a statement published on Thursday by the FIA read: “Based on the submission from the FIA, the FIA regards language of this type to be unacceptable, moving forward, particularly when used by participants in the sport who have a high public profile and who are seen by many, especially younger, followers of the sport, as role models, and that in future the FIA will not tolerate the use of such language in FIA forums by any stakeholder.

“Based on the submission from the Team Principal, the use of the language concerned was in this case unusual and was provoked by an abrupt interjection during the Press Conference and therefore cannot be regarded as typical from this Team Principal.

“Considering the mitigating circumstances in point 3 above, the Stewards in this case issue a formal Warning.”

A separate statement confirming Vasseur’s punishment added: “The Team Principal was extremely upset and frustrated by the incident that had occurred in FP1 and that language such as this, by him, was not usual.” recommends

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Wolff did not take kindly to a question from a reporter asking if the chaotic start to the Vegas weekend was a black eye for F1 considering the sport’s efforts to make the event a success.

He said: “That is not a black eye. This is nothing!

“We are [on] Thursday night, we have a free practice session one that we’re not doing, they’re going to seal the drain covers, and nobody’s going to talk about that tomorrow morning anymore.

“It’s completely ridiculous! Completely ridiculous, FP1, how can you even dare try to talk bad about an event that sets the new standards to everything? And then you’re speaking about a f***ing drain cover that’s been undone. That has happened before! That’s nothing, it’s FP1!

“Give credit to the people that have set up this grand prix, that have made this sport much bigger than it ever was. Have you ever spoken good about someone and written a good word? You should about all these people that have been out here. Liberty has done an awesome job and just because in FP1 a drain cover has become undone, we shouldn’t be moaning.

“The car is broken, that’s really a shame. For Carlos, it could have been dangerous. So between the FIA and the track and everybody needs to analyse how we can make sure that this is not happening again. But talking here about the black eye for the sport on a Thursday evening, nobody watches that in European time anyway!”

A visit to the stewards’ office in Abu Dhabi comes at a time the teams headed by Wolff and Vasseur are in a close fight in the Constructors’ Championship.

Mercedes lead Ferrari by just four points in the fight for second place ahead of this weekend’s season finale.

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