Forty-eight hours after announcing an investigation, the FIA concludes "appropriate protective measures are in place to mitigate any potential conflicts" in F1; all nine of Mercedes' rivals denied claims they had complained about the Wolffs, while also backing Susie's F1 Academy work
Friday 8 December 2023 10:21, UK
The FIA has dropped the investigation into the conduct of Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and his wife Susie, the head of F1 Academy, after finding Formula 1’s compliance rules to be sufficiently robust to prevent any breaches of confidentiality.
The move comes 48 hours after FIA, F1's governing body, announced its compliance department was looking into allegations against the Wolffs and 24 hours after Mercedes' nine rival teams united in coordinated social media posts to deny making any complaints about them.
In a statement on Thursday evening, the FIA said: "Following a review of Formula One Management's F1 Code of Conduct and F1 Conflict of Interest Policy and confirmation that appropriate protective measures are in place to mitigate any potential conflicts, the FIA is satisfied that FOM's compliance management system is robust enough to prevent any unauthorised disclosure of confidential information.
"The FIA can confirm that there is no ongoing investigation in terms of ethical or disciplinary inquiries involving any individual. As the regulator, the FIA has a duty to maintain the integrity of global motorsport. The FIA reaffirms its commitment to integrity and fairness."
Mercedes and Formula 1, who Susie Wolff works for in her capacity as the managing director of the all-female F1 Academy series, had reacted angrily on Tuesday night to what they described as baseless allegations against the pair and the fact the FIA had not notified them of the investigation prior to releasing a statement to the media.
In a separate statement on social media, Susie Wolff said she was "deeply insulted but sadly unsurprised" by the unsubstantiated claims and that it "seems to be rooted in intimidatory and misogynistic behaviour" which was "focused on my marital status rather than my abilities".
The FIA's subsequent statement may formally bring an end the short-lived investigation but the implications of the episode, and the nature in which it developed, may be felt longer-term amid continued focus on the relationship between the governing body and Liberty Media-owned F1, the commercial rights holders of the sport.
Sky Sports News understands that Mercedes felt the episode, including the fact they were not informed of the case before the media, could only be explained by it being designed to cause them reputational damage, and suggested other recent events, such as Toto Wolff being given an official warning for swearing in a Las Vegas GP press conference, showed a trend of hostility towards them and their team boss.
The FIA said it was following due process in the wake of a competitor's raised concern. The governing body also rejected any notion that its investigation was prompted by misogyny.
Amid this week's tense backdrop, a number of the sport's key figures, including FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and F1 president Stefano Domenicali, are set to be present at Friday night's FIA prize-giving gala in Baku where Max Verstappen and Red Bull will formally be crowned as 2023's world champions.
Watch our 2023 Season Review live on Sky Sports F1 at 7:30pm on Friday, featuring exclusive interviews with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Mercedes technical director James Allison. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW