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Ferrari’s Vasseur: FIA/Wolff saga was 'embarrassing for F1'

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur has said the FIA's probe into Susie and Toto Wolff was “quite embarrassing” for Formula 1 and thinks it could have investigated the matter privately.

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Ferrari

Last week the FIA announced its compliance department was looking into a potential conflict of interest between a team principal and FOM employee, amid dubious allegations that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and F1 Academy head Susie Wolff had exchanged confidential information.

Less than 48 hours later the matter was dropped as the FIA published a second statement saying it was “satisfied” with the processes that were in place to prevent unauthorised disclosure of confidential information, but not before receiving a stinging response from the Wolffs, who said they had their reputation harmed by the public nature of the probe.

PLUS: How the FIA/Wolff case could shape F1’s political landscape

Wolff's Ferrari counterpart Vasseur felt the whole saga was “quite embarrassing” and unnecessary as the FIA managed to clear the Wolffs shortly after going public with the probe, which suggested there was no need to issue a public statement in the first place.

“I think this story is quite embarrassing for our sport,” Vasseur said, when asked by Autosport if he was worried by the incident and its implications on the already frosty relationship between FOM and the FIA.

“The story started with an article in a newspaper, I don't know if newspaper is the right word. And I think in this situation when you are speaking about an individual, you have to take care of what you are saying.

“I think it would have been appropriate from the FIA; they needed 24 hours between the [first] announcement and the second announcement. It would have made sense to use the 24 hours before the first announcement [to investigate], to avoid any bad conclusions."

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG, wife and Susie

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG, wife and Susie

The probe was launched amid suggestions that rival teams had complained about the Wolffs to the FIA, but one day later all other nine competitors published a coordinated message backing Susie Wolff and denying they were behind the probe.

Vasseur pointed out that if anything good had come from the whole saga, it was that all 10 teams were united on a certain topic, which is a rare occurrence in F1.

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“After the incident of last week at least the teams were very united,” he added. “The first conclusion for me is that we were able to act together and it's not very often that even Red Bull was supportive of Toto!

“And honestly, I think it's a good point for us also to take position and to discuss with the other stakeholders. I think it's the first time the teams together showed something like this.”

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