December 19, 2023
Melinda Head

Governance at the FIA

We have some questions for you, Ms. Crighton

Susie Wolff is the Managing Director of F1 Academy, a global initiative aimed at increasing the female talent pool in motorsport both on and off track.

Susie Wolff, Managing Director of F1 Academy

The F1 Academy falls under the jurisdiction of Formula One Management (FOM), a subsidiary of publicly traded Formula One Group. A non-profit body, the FIA governs F1.

What is governance and why is it important in motor racing?

Governance is a framework composed of structures, processes, policies and practices from which a Board of Directors operates and oversees. This ensures that the Board is working in the best interests of the Organization. The President of the FIA reports to the Board of Directors and is responsible for carrying out the directives of the Board.

This is Mohammed Ben Sulayem, FIA President. He reports to the FIA Board of Directors

Since 2011, Susie Wolff has been married to Toto (Torger) Wolff, who holds a 33% stake in the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team. He is the Team Principal and CEO of the Team.

This is the 2023 Mercedes F1 team that Toto Wolff co-owns and manages

It has been another hard year for Toto Wolff. His star driver, Lewis Hamilton, has won 7 F1 World Championships, but the team has had a dry spell for the past 3 seasons. The current controversy has surely added to his woes

Recently, it was alleged that Ms. Wolff shared confidential F1 information with her husband, Toto Wolff.

An investigation by the FIA’s Compliance Department was launched to determine whether a real or perceived conflict of interest existed, i.e. had Susie Wolff shared confidential F1 information with her husband, Toto Wolff? The investigation, run by an internal body of the FIA, quickly concluded that there was no conflict.

Amidst a torrent of mostly fluffy articles, there remain many unanswered, important questions about this situation.Was any confidential information actually leaked by Ms. Wolff?

If so, exactly what information was leaked?

Where did this alleged confidential information come from: a Committee meeting, a Board meeting, a Team Principal’s meeting, something else?

Did Ms. Wolff actually receive this confidential information and, if so, how?

If Ms. Wolff received it, did she share this confidential information with her husband? In doing so, did Ms. Wolff breach the FIA Code of Ethics policy?

Why has the FIA Compliance Department not shared the details of its internal investigation more widely?

Has the internal Compliance Department reached out to an external body to provide an independent opinion?

The FIA called for this investigation. Does it have the right governance structure in place to manage potential conflicts of interest, either current or future? Where was the Board? That is the question no one is asking, and the most important question of all.

This is Alicia Crighton, Chair of the Board, FIA. Whether directly or indirectly, it is her responsibility to comment on behalf of the Board of Directors about the Susie Wolff incident. The buck stops with her. Ms. Crighton, we are waiting to hear from you

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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