Sky Sports F1’s Craig Slater says some Mercedes “senior figures” believe the Toto and Susie Wolff investigation is “falling within a wider context of friction” between the FIA and Toto.
A recent report from BusinessF1 magazine has suggested that Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff and his wife, F1 Academy Managing Director Susie Wolff are allegedly disclosing confidential information to each other.
The FIA then announced they have opened an investigation into the matter, but refrained from naming any names.
While providing an update of the situation, Sky Sports F1 reported Craig Slater said he had spoken to certain Mercedes “senior figures”.
“I’ve spoken to some senior figures in the team today and some of them have expressed to me that they think this has been done to deliberately cause them reputational damage,” Slater said.
“The fact that they had no prior notice that this was going to come into the public domain, that the first they heard of it was via the FIA’s media statement, that they understand that journalists were briefed about this, so therefore Toto Wolff and Susie Wolff were thrown into this glare of publicity before the whole issue had been properly investigated.
“So their names are associated with some kind of breach of propriety within their operations in their different roles.
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“And it’s also, as far as some of those senior figures in that team have explained to me, this is falling within a wider context of friction between the FIA and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
“They’ve cited to me the fact that he was reprimanded for swearing in a news conference and that within the last couple of weeks, the FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem spoke about the potential to bring back Michael Masi, the controversial race director.
“They think this has been so badly mishandled that it’s hard to explain otherwise than as a deliberate attempt to cause some reputational damage.
“Both Mercedes and F1 absolutely stand by their understanding that there has been zero impropriety in terms of Susie Wolff’s role and F1 and that there is no example of any information passed between her and her husband which in any way constitutes some kind of breach within what should be properly done within each of their roles.
“So as far as they are concerned, this investigation will come to absolutely nothing, but of course, they regret the fact that it has caused all this publicity and placed a question mark, as far as they are concerned, not just over Toto Wolff – but Susie Wolff, who has been an absolute shining light promoting the cause for women in motorsport,” Slater concluded.