FIA sets up whistleblowers platform to regulate budget cap

Formula 1’s governing body has set up an online 24-hour ‘ethics and compliance hotline’ for whistleblowers to report suspicious behaviour or concerns of possible misconduct in motorsport.

Formula 1 is set to introduce a $145 million budget cap for the 10 teams next year, with whistle-blowing seen as a component of that.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said on Tuesday the new online platform would help safeguard “the integrity and reputation of motorsport and automobile mobility worldwide”.

The main areas concern violations of the FIA’s ethical principles, issues related to sporting integrity and/or manipulation of competitions and anti-doping regulations.

Full confidentiality will be assured. The FIA also warned that anyone found to have intentionally made a false or misleading claim to create harm could face disciplinary measures, including criminal charges.

Formula One had a controversy last season when the legality of Ferrari’s engine was under scrutiny, with Italian media suggesting a whistleblower had made allegations.

The FIA and Ferrari eventually reached a confidential settlement, to the anger of rival teams. The budget cap is due to be reduced further to $140 million in 2022 and $135 million from 2023.

Formula 1 has a history of whistleblowers providing important information.

A 2009 race-fixing scandal, when Renault were found to have ordered Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash deliberately to help team mate Fernando Alonso win, featured a whistleblower “Witness X” who had been aware of the plan and opposed it.

“The teams have, in a very crude sense, this internal policing going on because they know that this engineer will move to another team next season and you won’t be able to retain that information,” Formula One’s managing director for motorsport Ross Brawn told SportsPro in March.

“So there’s self-policing, there’s a whistleblowing system, and there’s a strong group of auditors.”

The platform can be used to report:

  • Alleged or real violations of the ethical principles contained in the FIA regulations (for example discrimination, harassment, bribery, corruption, conflict of interests, fraud, money laundering)
  • Issues related to sport integrity or manipulation of FIA competitions (for example arrangements for altering a the result of an FIA competition)
  • Alleged or real violations of the FIA antidoping regulations (for example use, or attempted use, or trafficking of a prohibited substance)