Lewis Hamilton criticizes the inconsistent investigation by the FIA into Toto and Susie Wolff.
Lewis Hamilton has delivered a scathing assessment of the FIA’s treatment of Toto and Susie Wolff after they were investigated for potential conflict of interest, condemning it as unacceptable and demanding change from the leadership of Formula One’s governing body.
The head of the team, Toto Wolff, has verified that Mercedes is involved in a legal discussion with the FIA in order to receive a comprehensive and clear explanation of the events.
The governing body announced on Tuesday that it will be launching an inquiry into an unverified claim that confidential information was shared between a Formula One team and a member of the sport’s owners, Formula One Management (FOM). The focus of the allegation is on Wolff and his spouse, who holds the position of managing director at the F1 Academy, which is operated by FOM and features an all-female series.
Following statements from the other nine teams confirming that they did not file a complaint with the FIA, and denials from Susie Wolff, Mercedes, and FOM regarding the allegations, the FIA promptly closed the investigation on Thursday. They determined that neither party had a valid case against them.
During the FIA prize-giving ceremony in Baku on Friday, Hamilton was direct and firm in his disapproval of the governing body. He expressed disappointment at their actions, stating that it has been a difficult week. He also criticized their handling of Susie Wolff, a highly respected female leader in the sport, without proper evidence and only offering a simple apology afterwards. This behavior is unacceptable.
The decision to proceed with an investigation and to do so very publicly could almost certainly not have taken place without the knowledge and consent of the FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, and Hamilton implied that there were issues at the very top of the organisation that had to be dealt with.
“The industry is constantly striving to enhance diversity and inclusivity,” he stated. “It appears that certain individuals in the FIA leadership consistently hinder our progress whenever we attempt to move forward, and this needs to be addressed.”
On Friday, Toto Wolff announced that he and Mercedes will be seeking clarification. “We are currently engaged in legal discussions with the FIA,” he stated. “We await complete transparency regarding the events and reasons, and have explicitly reserved all legal options.”
Susie Wolff, who had refuted the accusations from the start, was just as insistent in seeking explanations from the regulatory body of F1, which is currently facing significant scrutiny to defend its decisions. “There has been a lack of transparency and accountability in this situation,” she stated. “I have been subjected to online harassment regarding my work and my loved ones. I will not be intimidated and I am determined to continue investigating until I uncover the individuals responsible for initiating this campaign and providing false information to the media.”