F1 and Mercedes deny conflict of interest accusations against Wolff

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Formula 1 and the Mercedes F1 team have vehemently denied allegations of a conflict of interest involving Toto and Susie Wolff.

The couple are under investigation by the FIA Compliance Department following a comment made by Toto Wolff during a recent team principals meeting.

According to BusinessF1 magazine, Wolff’s remark to his peers in the meeting raised a few eyebrows as the information he conveyed could only have come from Formula One Management (FOM).

It is therefore believed that certain F1 team bosses have conveyed to the FIA their fear that in their capacity as Mercedes F1 team principal (Toto Wolff) and Managing Director of the F1 Academy series (Susie Wolff), the couple may have access to privileged information that could provide them with an unfair advantage.

Specifically, there are concerns that Toto Wolff may have access to confidential insights into the activities of FOM which rival team bosses lack.

Additionally, Susie Wolff – who reports directly to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali – may have knowledge, through her husband, of discussions among team principals, information that could be valuable to FOM.

These concerns have prompted fears that confidential discussions at the team principal level could be leaking to F1's senior management. This potential breach of confidentiality could therefore impact the competitive balance of Formula One.

In response to the impending FIA investigation and the specific rumors that prompted the FIA's unexpected action, Formula 1 has issued a statement. Interestingly, neither Toto nor Susie Wolff is explicitly identified in the latter.

"The FIA is aware of media speculation centered on the allegation of information of a confidential nature being passed to an F1 team principal from a member of FOM personnel. The FIA Compliance Department is looking into the matter,” read the governing body’s statement, published on Tuesday evening.

In a stern rebuke of the allegations, FOM vehemently defended both Wolff and its own reputation, while also emphasizing that it was not informed of the investigation beforehand.

“We note the public statement made by the FIA this evening that was not shared with us in advance,” said F1.

“We have complete confidence that the allegations are wrong, and we have robust processes and procedures that ensure the segregation of information and responsibilities in the event of any potential conflict of interest.

“We are confident that no member of our team has made any unauthorised disclosure to a Team Principal and would caution anyone against making imprudent and serious allegations without substance.”

In its own statement released on Tuesday evening, Mercedes also rejected allegations of any wrongdoing by team principal Toto Wolff, and insists that like F1, it knew nothing about an FIA investigation until it was released in the media on Tuesday evening.

“We note the generic statement from the FIA this evening, which responds to unsubstantiated allegations from a single media outlet, and the off-record briefing which has linked it to the Team Principal of Mercedes-AMG F1,” it said.

“The Team has received no communication from the FIA Compliance Department on this topic and it was highly surprising to learn of the investigation through a media statement.

“We wholly reject the allegation in the statement and associated media coverage, which wrongly impinges on the integrity and compliance of our Team Principal.

“As a matter of course, we invite full, prompt, and transparent correspondence from the FIA Compliance Department regarding this investigation and its contents,” Mercedes concluded.

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