Wolff and Vasseur summoned by FIA for abusive language

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Mercedes and Ferrari team principal Toto Wolff and Fred Vasseur were summoned by the FIA stewards in Abu Dhabi on Thursday to explain comments made by the pair in a press conference last week in Las Vegas.

F1’s governing body wanted to determine whether the abusive language used by Wolff and Vasseur constituted a breach of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, and specifically of Article 12.2.1f of the ISC.

The latter forbids “any words, deeds or writings that have caused moral injury or loss to the FIA, its bodies, its members or its executive officers, and more generally on the interest of motor sport and on the values defended by the FIA.”

The presser was conducted in the wake of the events that unfolded in FP1, when Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz struck a loose water valve cover embedded in the Las Vegas Strip track.

The incident destroyed the Spaniard’s chassis and power unit, much to Vasseur’s ire.

“We had a very tough FP1. This will cost us a fortune. We fucked-up the session for Carlos. We won’t be part of the FP2 for sure,” said the Frenchman.

“We have to change the chassis out of the car, to set-up the car. okay, the show is the show and everything is going well but I think it’s just unacceptable for the F1 today.”

Wolff on the other hand tried to downplay the incident, denying as it was suggested that it represented a “black eye” for F1.

“It’s completely ridiculous, completely ridiculous,” a visibly irritated Wolff said. “FP1, how can you even dare trying to talk bad about an event that sets the new standards, new standards to everything.

“You’re speaking about a fucking drain cover that’s been undone, that has happened before. That’s nothing. It’s FP1.”

The stewards said that it had not been possible for them to conduct a hearing last Sunday morning in Vegas. They therefore delegated their authority to the stewards in Abu Dhabi.

After a joint hearing at Yas Marina on Thursday afternoon, both Wolff and Vasseur were let off the hook with a formal warning.

The stewards published the following statement:

“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.”

In the case of Wolff, "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".

Vasseur was also offered mitigated circumstances by the stewards: "[he] was extremely upset and frustrated by the incident that had occurred in FP1 and that language such as this, by him, was not usual."

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