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F1's Call for Transparency Wolff's Bold Complaint

“Mercedes F1: Hamilton & Russell Demand Transparency”

21/03/2024

In the wake of Susie Wolff’s legal action against the FIA, Mercedes F1 drivers demand greater transparency and accountability in the sport.

Mercedes F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have criticized the lack of accountability and transparency in Formula 1 following Susie Wolff’s criminal complaint against the FIA.

In December, Wolff, the head of the F1 Academy, and her husband Toto, the Mercedes F1 team director, were investigated by the FIA over an allegation that “confidential information had been passed to an F1 team director by a member of FOM.”

They were not explicitly named by the FIA but were identified in the media, damaging the Wolffs’ reputation. After the FIA reversed its stance two days later, claiming there was no investigation, Susie Wolff made it clear she was dissatisfied with the governing body’s response.

Ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, when she revealed her criminal complaint filed on March 4, Wolff stated it targeted a lack of “transparency and accountability regarding the conduct of the FIA and its staff in this matter.”

This occurred on the day FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem was cleared of any alleged interference in the proceedings of two events last season, following an investigation by the FIA’s compliance department and a subsequent review of the report by the FIA ethics committee.

The words “transparency” and “accountability” were widely used when Mercedes drivers Hamilton and Russell were asked about Susie Wolff’s action this Thursday in Melbourne.

An initial cautious response from Russell, where he emphasized the desire for “good outcomes, truth, and transparency in any case presented,” prompted sharp criticism from Hamilton.

The seven-time world champion commended Wolff, saying, “In a world where people are often silenced, the fact that she stands up sends a very good message.”

“I appreciate her bringing this out into the world, as there’s a real lack of accountability here, in this sport, within the FIA, things happening behind closed doors, there’s no transparency.”

“There’s clearly no accountability. And we need it. I think the fans need it. How can you trust the sport and what happens here every day if you don’t have that?”

“I therefore hope that the stance she is now taking will create a change, that it will have a positive impact.”

“And especially for women, you know, it’s still a male-dominated sport.”

“And we live in a time where the message is: if you complain, you will be fired, and that’s a terrible narrative to project onto the world.”

“So, especially when we talk about inclusivity here in the sport, we need to make sure we stay true to the core values here.”

Hamilton’s final points highlight how his criticism targets broader behavior in F1, not just against the FIA.

F1 is currently embroiled in an ongoing controversy involving Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who remains under scrutiny following allegations of misconduct against him.

An investigation ordered by Red Bull’s parent company concluded with the grievance against Horner being dismissed, and shortly after, his accuser was suspended. She has not yet been fired, appealed the initial decision by Red Bull based on the investigation, and has filed a complaint with the FIA.

This will likely force the FIA to become involved in the Horner matter in some way after avoiding any significant public comment. Ben Sulayem has been criticized for this, as he reportedly tried to persuade Max Verstappen to publicly support Horner and remarked that the issue was damaging for F1.

Ben Sulayem is often at the center of these issues, and there has been a series of controversies during his presidency, with the handling of the Wolff affair last year being widely regarded as one of them.

“You’re convinced that the leaders of this sport have the best interest at heart rather than their own interests,” Russell continues when asked if Ben Sulayem is the right person to lead the FIA.

“It comes down to the transparency aspect of things.”

“If things are transparent and we see the outcomes of these matters, we all have the opportunity to judge for ourselves, with all the facts and figures in front of us.”

“But when we don’t have the facts and figures and there’s no transparency, you always think something is being hidden.”

“That’s why I think it’s so important for the sport now, as Lewis said, to send the right message, to everyone who supports Formula 1, watches Formula 1, wants to get involved in Formula 1, that things are not just swept under the rug.”

F1’s Call for Transparency: Wolff’s Bold Complaint. F1’s Call for Transparency: Wolff’s Bold Complaint

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