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F1 teams deny complaining about Toto & Susie Wolff over conflict of interests allegation

Susie Wolff is the director of the F1 Academy, the sport’s junior category for aspiring female drivers

Formula 1 teams have issued statements denying that they have made complaints about the behaviour of Toto and Susie Wolff.

F1 governing body the FIA launched an inquiry on Tuesday into a magazine’s claims that rival team principals believe the married couple’s relationship represents a conflict of interest in the sport.

The identically worded statements seem to undermine the basis for both the article and the investigation and raise questions about the FIA’s judgement.

Toto Wolff is the team principal of the Mercedes F1 team, which he has stewarded to unprecedented success since taking on the role. His wife Susie is a former racing driver who now serves as director of the F1 Academy, the sport’s junior category for aspiring female drivers.

In her role, Susie Wolff reports directly to F1 president Stefano Domenicali.

The article, published by Business F1 magazine, claimed a number of team principals had raised concerns with the FIA about the potential for confidential information passing between Mercedes and F1 through the Wolffs.

But all nine teams other than Mercedes have said in their co-ordinated statements: “We can confirm that we have not made any complaint to the FIA regarding the allegation of information of a confidential nature being passed between an F1 team principal and a member of FOM [F1] staff.

“We are pleased and proud to support F1 Academy and its managing director through our commitment to sponsor an entrant in our liveries from next season.”

As the subject of the allegations, Mercedes would not complain about their own team principal to the FIA.

The FIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, the FIA said it had referred the allegation to its compliance unit. Mercedes and F1 responded with statements rejecting the accusations and making clear their frustration with the FIA’s handling of the matter.

Susie Wolff said she was “deeply insulted but sadly unsurprised” by the claims.

In a social media post, she described the allegations as “intimidatory and misogynistic”.

The controversy has been interpreted by senior figures in F1 as the result of a fight between Toto Wolff and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

Insiders have said Ben Sulayem has not appreciated Wolff’s interventions in recent months on a number of key F1 matters, both publicly and in private.

The dispute comes against a backdrop of worsening relations between F1 and the FIA on a number of fronts.

Ben Sulayem said in February he was stepping back from direct involvement in F1, a move that came after a series of controversies since he was elected president in December 2021, including the unearthing of a series of sexist remarks he made in the past.

But he has remained active behind the scenes and teams have viewed a series of incidents in recent months as being directly linked to him, including the decision to call Wolff and Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur to the stewards at the final race of the season for swearing in a news conference.

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