Susie Wolff: I might have been collateral damage

Susie Wolff files criminal complaint against FIA in French courts

Susie Wolff: I might have been collateral damage

Susie Wolff, one of the top women in motorsport and wife of Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto, has taken legal action against the governing FIA for a conflict of interest inquiry last year.

Wolff, who runs the all-female F1 Academy support series, announced her move on Wednesday after FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem was cleared of alleged interference in two races last year.

“I can confirm that I personally filed a criminal complaint in the French courts on the 4th of March in relation to the statements made about me by the FIA last December,” she said on social media.

“There has still not been any transparency or accountability in relation to the conduct of the FIA and its personnel in this matter.

“I feel more than ever it is important to stand up, call out improper behaviour and make sure people are held to account,” added the Briton. “Whilst some may think silence absolves them from responsibility — it does not.”

The FIA announced in December an inquiry into the Wolffs following a magazine report that a team boss had received confidential information from an employee of the commercial rights holder.

Susie Wolff, who reports to F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali, said the allegations appeared “rooted in intimidatory and misogynistic behaviour and focused on my marital status rather than my abilities”.

The enquiry was swiftly shelved after all nine other teams issued statements in support of Susie Wolff.

Wolff’s legal step came as the FIA sought to draw a line under whistleblower claims about Ben Sulayem’s behaviour, with the sport already gripped by alleged goings-on at F1 Champions Red Bull.

A female Red Bull employee, suspended after team boss Christian Horner was cleared of misconduct which he has denied, is appealing the outcome of an independent investigation carried out by the energy drink brand.

The FIA has yet to confirm reports she also raised an official complaint with them.

Las Vegas Accusations

F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas - Practice

Ben Sulayem had faced accusations he sought to prevent circuit approval ahead of the showcase Las Vegas Grand Prix and had allegedly interfered in the outcome of the Saudi Arabian race in Jeddah.

The FIA said its ethics committee had cleared the Emirati unanimously after an independent investigation that took 30 days.

“There was no evidence to substantiate allegations of interference of any kind involving the FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem,” it said.

Ben Sulayem was accused of interfering with a stewards’ decision, resulting in the reinstatement of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso to third place in Jeddah.

The FIA president was also said to have wanted to withhold a licence for the inaugural night-time Las Vegas grand prix.

The race in November was a pillar of Liberty Media-owned Formula One’s efforts to promote the sport in a key U.S. market where it has enjoyed rapid growth.

Ben Sulayem was elected in 2021, succeeding Frenchman Jean Todt, and his presidency has been marked by clashes with Formula One.

Formula One Management holds the 100-year commercial rights to the Championship, starting from 2001, while the FIA is the sanctioning body responsible for rules and safety as well as technical staff.

The sides are also at odds over a potential 11th team, with Ben Sulayem supportive of a U.S.-based Andretti-Cadillac entry and Formula One ruling it out until at least 2028. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)