Lewis Hamilton has strongly criticized the FIA’s handling and abrupt closure of the investigation involving Susie and Toto Wolff, describing it as “unacceptable.” His statement comes in the wake of the FIA ending their inquiry, spotlighting issues of fairness and transparency in Formula One.
- Investigation Concluded: The FIA’s probe into Susie and Toto Wolff, centered around the exchange of confidential information, was abruptly ended after Formula One teams unanimously dismissed the concerns.
- Wolff’s Disappointment: Susie Wolff publicly expressed her dissatisfaction with the FIA’s process, highlighting the lack of communication and the adverse impact on her reputation and personal life.
- Demand for Higher Standards: With the backing of F1 teams, Wolff advocates for enhanced transparency and accountability in Formula One, committing to pursue further action.
The Formula One community has been embroiled in controversy following the FIA’s investigation into Susie Wolff, F1 Academy’s managing director, and her husband, Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff, over potential conflicts of interest. The inquiry was quickly concluded after F1 teams collectively refuted the allegations, leading to an abrupt end to the investigation. This hasty conclusion has drawn significant criticism, especially from Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton, who spoke before the FIA Gala, was direct in his criticism. He stated, “Disappointing to see the governing body questioning the integrity of one of the most incredible female leaders we’ve had in our sport, without questioning, without any evidence, then just saying sorry at the end, that’s just unacceptable. There is a constant fight to really improve diversity and inclusion within the industry, but it seems there are certain individuals within the leadership of the FIA that every time we make a step forward they’re trying to pull us back and that has to change.”
Susie Wolff also voiced her concerns on Instagram, expressing her frustration with the FIA’s approach. She remarked, “When I saw the statement issued by the FIA yesterday evening, my first reaction was: ‘Is that it?’ For two days, insinuations have been made about my integrity in public and through background briefings, but nobody from the FIA has spoken to me directly. I might have been collateral damage in an unsuccessful attack on somebody else, or the target of a failed attempt to discredit me personally, but I have worked too hard to have my reputation called into question by an unfounded press release. We have come a long way as a sport. I was extremely thankful for the unified support of the Formula One teams. I have worked with so many passionate women and men at F1 and the FIA, who have the very best interests of our sport at heart. However, this episode has so far taken place without transparency or accountability. I have received online abuse about my work and my family. I will not allow myself to be intimidated and intend to follow up until I have found out who has instigated this campaign and misled the media. What happened this week is simply not good enough. As a sport, we must demand, and we deserve, better.”
The situation highlights ongoing challenges in Formula One, particularly regarding governance and the handling of sensitive issues. It underscores the need for greater transparency and accountability, not only within the FIA but across the sport as a whole. The responses from key figures like Hamilton and Susie Wolff reflect a growing sentiment for change and improvement in the way Formula One addresses and manages internal investigations and public communication.