Susie Wolff files criminal complaint against FIA following conflict of interest investigation

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The wife of Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said Wednesday she has filed a criminal complaint in the French courts “in relation to statements made about me” by Formula 1's governing body.

Susie Wolff is an employee of F1's management group as director of the all-female series F1 Academy.

The FIA said in early December it was investigating the Wolffs following allegations of a conflict of interest and whether they have shared confidential information. The FIA said it was “aware of media speculation” about whether confidential information was exchanged, and that its compliance department was “looking into the matter.”

The probe began after a report in BusinessF1 magazine that rival team executives raised concerns about whether Toto and Susie Wolff passed on information discussed in private meetings. Susie Wolff reports to F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali.

The day after the FIA launched its investigation, the remaining nine F1 teams released nearly identically worded statements denying they'd lodged a complaint to the governing body. The FIA has consistently said that it can only launch an investigation if a complaint is filed to its compliance or ethics committees.

The FIA closed the investigation into the Wolffs within 48 hours, and both husband and wife hinted they were looking into taking legal action against the Paris-based FIA. On social media Wednesday, she confirmed that she filed a complaint on March 4.

“There has still not been any transparency or accountability in relation to the conduct of the FIA and its personnel in this matter,” she wrote. "I feel more than ever it is important to stand up, call out improper behavior and make sure people are held to account.

“Whilst some may think silence absolves them from responsibility — it does not.”

Susie Wolff's statement came the same day that the FIA's ethics committee dismissed two whistleblower complaints against President Mohammed Ben Sulayem for allegedly interfering in two F1 events last season.

The FIA has resisted calls to investigate Red Bull Racing and team principal Christian Horner over allegations of misconduct made against Horner by a team employee. Red Bull's parent company cleared Horner of any wrongdoing and his accuser has been suspended by the team.

All along, the FIA said it needed a complaint against Horner to be filed to look into the matter. Horner's accuser has recently hired a communications team that late last week formally filed a complaint to the FIA. But because the compliance and ethics committees act independently and at arm's length of the FIA, any investigation would be handled by those bodies.

Ben Sulayem would not be involved in any investigation into Red Bull or Horner — if an investigation has even been launched. The FIA has not confirmed it received a complaint from Horner's accuser and instead noted that compliance and ethics "operate autonomously, guaranteeing strict confidentially throughout the process.

“As a consequence, and in general, we are unable to confirm the receipt of any specific complaint.”

F1 returns to competition this weekend at the Australian Grand Prix, the third race of the season, and all focus has been on Red Bull, Horner and the team's continued dominance. Red Bull went 1-2 in the first two races of the season and three-time reigning world champion Max Verstappen has won 19 of the last 20 races.

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AP Formula 1: https://apnews.com/hub/formula-one