Toto Wolff: Susie Wolff wants ‘accountability and responsibility’ in FIA criminal complaint

Thomas Maher
Toto Wolff, Susie Wolff, 2023 United States Grand Prix.

Toto Wolff has shared his thoughts on his wife and F1 Academy managing director Susie lodging a criminal complaint against the FIA in the French courts.

This week, Susie Wolff confirmed she had kicked off legal proceedings against F1’s governing body following the situation that played out in the media during the winter break.

Susie Wolff lodges criminal complaint against FIA

In December, the FIA issued a statement to say that it would be looking into media speculation alleging information of a “confidential nature” was being passed to an F1 team principal from a member of FOM personnel, with the FIA’s Compliance Department looking into the matter.

While the FIA did not name the Wolffs, the media report in question linked the Austrian team boss and his wife, in her capacity as the managing director of the F1 Academy.

Claims that the investigation had been triggered by complaints raised by rival team bosses were quickly headed off by all nine teams in an unprecedented show of cooperation that had the effect of shining the spotlight back at the FIA as to the basis of the investigation.

Days later, the FIA called off the investigation and said a review of FOM’s F1 Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest policy confirmed “appropriate protective measures are in place to mitigate any potential conflicts”.

The FIA also said it was satisfied FOM’s management system is “robust enough” to prevent any unauthorised disclosure of confidential information.

While the matter had seemingly blown over almost as quickly as it began, Mercedes confirmed the Wolffs would weigh up their legal options – leading to Susie lodging her criminal complaint in France, where the FIA is based.

Toto Wolff: Susie Wolff feels ‘wrong was done’

Wolff’s statement read: “I can confirm that I personally filed a criminal complaint in the French courts on the 4th of March in relation to the statements made about me by the FIA last December.

“There has still not been any transparency or accountability in relation to the conduct of the FIA and its personnel in this matter.

“I feel more than ever it is important to stand up, call out improper behaviour and make sure people are held to account.

“Whilst some may think silence absolves them from responsibility – it does not.”

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 on Friday, Toto Wolff said his wife will see the matter through to the end in a bid to find out why the actions were taken in the first place.

“Susie is a strong woman,” Wolff said.

“She doesn’t take anything from anyone and, as always, follows through on her convictions and values – and that’s the case here.

“She’s very unemotional about it and pragmatic. She feels wrong was done, and the court needs to hear that. Nothing’s going to bring her off that path. That’s how her character is.”

With Lewis Hamilton also showing his backing for Wolff by saying there has been a “lack of accountability” in F1, the seven-time World Champion said: “I love that she’s taken it out of this world, fighting it from the outside, because there is a real lack of accountability here within this sport, within the FIA, things that are happening behind closed doors, there is no transparency.

“There is really no accountability and we need that; I think the fans need that. How can you trust the sport and what is happening here if you don’t have that?”

Wolff referred to Hamilton’s comments, saying that the continuing conversation about off-track matters distracts from what F1 should be all about.

“And, on the other side, it is the case and the fact that all year now we have been talking about cases of [lack of] transparency and various other factors that are just not great,” he said.

“And this is what Lewis referred to. 

“We should talk about the greatness of the sport and where we are, and not the other stuff, but it needs to be pointed to.”

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While the FIA ended their investigation just days after announcing their interest in the unnamed personnel, the lack of confirmation of what prompted the action – and the source of the original story – has resulted in Wolff taking her stance.

Toto Wolff said the main focus now is on finding out those details.

“I think Susie, like I said before, she’s started that process many months ago,” he said.

“[She] has done it very diligently, as far as I’m concerned, and will go all the way in.

“ I think it matters for her most to find out what happened. And [that] people take accountability and responsibility, and things are not brushed under the carpet.

“I think we as a sport need to do that in all areas, whether it is Susie’s case, or whether some cases with the other teams.

“I think this sport has such a massive platform, we’re doing so well, and maybe sometimes we need to take it out of the, let’s say, jurisdictions of our sport into the real world and see what it does.”

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