Susie Wolff will go ‘all the way’ in fight against FIA, says Mercedes boss

Susie Wolff on the grid - Susie Wolff will go 'all the way' in fight against FIA, says Mercedes boss

Susie Wolff ‘feels wrong was done and the court needs to hear that’ says her husband, Toto Wolff – Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

Toto Wolff has warned FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem that his wife Susie will go “all the way” in her criminal case against him, adding she “doesn’t take anything from anyone”.

Susie Wolff, the former F1 test driver who now runs the all-female F1 Academy series, revealed on Wednesday that she had filed a criminal complaint in the French courts against Ben Sulayem, who is the head of motorsport’s world governing body.

It relates to the FIA’s short-lived conflict of interest probe last December into her relationship with Toto, the Mercedes team principal. In a statement on social media, Susie said she was determined to get to the bottom of why and how the probe came about, noting that three months on, there had still been no “transparency or accountability”.

Toto Wolff warned Ben Sulayem that his wife was a formidable adversary. “Susie is a strong woman and she doesn’t take anything from anyone, and has always followed through on her convictions and values, and that is the case here,” he told Sky Sports F1 after a poor practice session for his drivers in Melbourne, particularly for Lewis Hamilton, who ended the day 18th quickest.

“She is very unemotional about it and pragmatic and she feels wrong was done and the court needs to hear that and nothing is going to bring her off that path. That is how her character is.”

Wolff added that the need for transparency was not only limited to the aborted probe into their relationship. Just as Hamilton did on Thursday, Wolff appeared to suggest the ongoing controversy at Red Bull, as well as the recent FIA ethics committee investigation into allegations that Ben Sulayem tried to interfere at last year’s races in Saudi Arabia and Las Vegas, were also in need of transparency.

“It is the case and the fact that all year now we have been talking about cases in transparency, and various other factors that are just not great and this is what Lewis referred to.

“We should talk about the greatest of the sport, and not the other stuff. But it needs to be pointed to.”

Toto Wolff and his wife Susie Wolff walk in the paddock ahead of the 2022 Grand Prix of France

Toto and Susie Wolff’s relationship was the subject of a short-lived and abandoned conflict of interest probe by the FIA last year – Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Wolff concluded of his wife’s criminal action: “Susie started that process many months ago and has done it very diligently as far as I am concerned. And she will go all the way. It matters for her most to find out what happened and people take accountability and responsibility and things are not brushed under the carpet and we as a sport need to do that in all areas, whether that is the Susie case or some case with the other teams or overall.

“This sport has a massive platform and we are doing so well and sometimes we need to take it out of the jurisdiction of our sport into the real world and see what it does.”

Asked whether it was a watershed moment for the sport, Wolff replied: “No, I don’t think there is such a thing as a watershed moment. But at a certain stage we shouldn’t be just getting those hits and accepting them in all areas to make this sport as transparent as it should be considering its importance in the world.”

Wolff repeated what he said in Jeddah two weekends ago, admitting he would love to sign triple world champion Max Verstappen from Red Bull, and noting that the “wobbles” Mercedes’ rivals were currently experiencing perhaps might present them with an opportunity.

“He is in a fantastic place in his career and it will be a decision that is up to him,” Wolff said, adding Mercedes needed to sort their car out before Verstappen would ever consider a switch to Brackley.

George Russell finished sixth quickest in FP2 after what Wolff described as a “dramatic set-up change” that “massively backfired”. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was quickest, ahead of Verstappen, suggesting Red Bull may not have it all their own way in Saturday qualifying.

Meanwhile, McLaren have announced that chief executive Zak Brown has extended his contract with the Woking team until 2030.

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