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‘How can you trust the sport?’ – Hamilton backs Wolff legal action against FIA

Lewis Hamilton accused the FIA of having “a real lack of accountability” as he backed Susie Wolff’s decision to file a criminal complaint against Formula 1’s governing body.

Wolff announced on Wednesday that she had filed the complaint in French courts after the FIA launched and then dropped an investigation in December 2023 over an alleged breach of confidentiality.

The probe arose after a report in Business F1 magazine claimed that other team principals were concerned Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was benefiting from information shared by his wife, who is the managing director of the all-female F1 Academy series and reports directly to F1 boss Stefano Domenicali.

After Wolff and Mercedes vehemently denied the allegations in public statements, and the other nine F1 teams denied having made complaints, the FIA dropped the investigation stating that it had found Formula 1’s compliance rules to be sufficiently robust to prevent any breaches.

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Hamilton said in December last year that the FIA’s actions regarding Wolff had been ‘unacceptable’

“Firstly, I’m incredibly proud of Susie. I think she’s so brave and she stands for such great values,” Mercedes driver Hamilton said in Melbourne on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

“She’s such a leader, and in a world where often people are silenced, for her to be standing up sends such a great message. And I love that she’s taken it out of this world – fighting it from outside because there is a real lack of accountability here within this sport, within the FIA, things that are happening behind closed doors.

“There is no transparency, there is clearly no accountability, and we need that. I think the fans needs that. How can you trust the sport and what is happening here if you don’t have that?

“So hopefully this stand that she’s taken now will create change, will have a positive impact, and especially for women.”

In announcing the filing of her criminal complaint, Wolff said: “There has still not been any transparency or accountability in relation to the conduct of the FIA and its personnel in this matter.

“I feel more than ever it is important to stand up, call out improper behaviour and make sure people are held to account.

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

Wolff’s remarks come with the Formula 1 news agenda continuing to be dominated by the fallout from allegations of inappropriate behaviour being made against Red Bull team principal Christian Horner by a female colleague.

An external investigation launched by the team’s parent company Red Bull GmbH dismissed the complainant’s grievance in February.

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Hamilton has praised Wolff’s work as managing director of the all-female F1 Academy series

The complainant, who was then suspended on full pay from her role with Red Bull Racing, has lodged a formal appeal against the decision.

Horner, 50, who has always denied the claims made against him, remained in his role throughout the investigation and continues to lead the reigning constructors’ champions.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton added: “It is still a male-dominated sport and we’re living in a time where the message is, ‘if you file a complaint, you’ll be fired’.

“And that is a terrible narrative to be projecting to the world, especially when we’re talking about inclusivity here in the sport, we need to make sure that we’re staying true to the core values here.”

Sky Sports News has contacted the FIA for comment regarding Wolff’s statement.

Russell: Things can’t be swept under the carpet

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell echoed the seven-time world champion’s sentiment as he insisted that issues in the sport shouldn’t be “just swept under the carpet”.

“I think as drivers we have a role within the teams and you trust that the leaders in this sport have the best interest at their heart rather than their own interests,” said Russell, who is one of the directors of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.

MELBOURNE GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 21: George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team during the Australian GP at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on Thursday March 21, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Sutton / Sutton Images)
Image: George Russell also called for more ‘transparency’

“I think that goes back to the transparency side of things. If things are transparent and we see the outcomes of these cases, we all have a chance to judge for ourselves with all of the facts and figures in front of us.

“But when we don’t have the facts and figures and there is no transparency, you always think there’s something being hidden.

“That’s why I think it’s so important for the sport now, as Lewis said, to send the right message to everybody who’s supporting Formula 1, watching Formula 1, wants to be involved in Formula 1, that things aren’t just swept under the carpet.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Australian GP schedule

Australian Grand Prix schedule page

Thursday March 21

  • 9.45pm: F3 Practice
  • 10.55pm: F2 Practice

Friday March 22

  • 1am: Australian GP Practice One (session starts at 1.30am)
  • 2.55am: F3 Qualifying
  • 4.45am: Australian GP Practice Two (session starts at 5am)
  • 6.25am: F2 Qualifying
  • 7.15am: The F1 Show
  • 8.30am: Australian GP Practice One highlights
  • 10am: Australian GP practice Two highlights

Saturday March 23

  • 0.10am: F3 Sprint
  • 1.10am: Australian GP Practice Three (session starts at 1.30am)
  • 3.10am: F2 Sprint
  • 4.15am: Australian GP Qualifying build-up
  • 5am: Australian GP Qualifying
  • 7am: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
  • 7.30am: Australian GP Qualifying highlights
  • 8.30am: Australian GP Qualifying replay (Sky Showcase)
  • 10.30am: Australian GP Qualifying replay
  • 10pm: F3 Feature Race

Sunday March 24

  • 0.30am: F2 Feature Race
  • 3am: Australian GP build-up: Grand Prix Sunday
  • 4am: THE AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX
  • 6am: Australian GP reaction: Chequered flag
  • 7am: Ted’s Notebook
  • 7.30am: Australian GP highlights
  • 8.30am: Australian GP build-up: Grand Prix Sunday replay
  • 9.30am: Australian GP race replay
  • 10am: Australian GP highlights (Sky Showcase)
  • 11.30am: Australian GP reaction: Chequered flag replay

Formula 1’s biggest ever season continues with the Australian Grand Prix this weekend, with Sunday’s race live on Sky Sports F1 at 4am. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – no contract, cancel anytime

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