Toto Wolff praises FIA’s current ‘transparency’ and ‘no shyness’ approach

Toto Wolff and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem in the Mercedes garage. Hungary July 2022 Credit: Alamy
Toto Wolff and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem in the Mercedes garage. Hungary July 2022 Credit: Alamy

Although conceding it will never be “perfect”, Toto Wolff has applauded the FIA’s recent display of “transparency” as motorsport’s governing body announced changes after the Japanese Grand Prix.

Formula 1 had a ‘WTF’ moment at Suzuka where, red-flagging the race after Carlos Sainz had crashed his Ferrari in a heavy downpour, the drivers filed past a crane that was on the track.

With almost no visibility, it was a scary moment for everyone but most notably for Pierre Gasly, trying to catch up to the back of the field, who went flying past at 200kmh.

The race was later resumed and the drama was by no means over as there was confusion over whether or not Max Verstappen had won the World title after taking the chequered flag.

While it was initially thought full points would not be awarded, they were, as the rules – unbeknownst to just about everyone – state the points column will only be used if a race “cannot be resumed”.

With the teams, pundits and fans up in arms over the antics the FIA immediately announced they would conduct a “thorough” review, with motorsport’s governing body releasing their findings last month.

Ranging from Gasly’s speeding to the performance of the wet-weather tyres to how points are awarded in a shortened race, the FIA then also took action.

Not only did motorsports’ governing body axe its rotating race director system, it revisited the wording of the Sporting Regulations.

Wolff has applauded FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem for his swift, and transparent, actions.

“We’ve had a new administration since December and things have changed,” the Mercedes motorsport boss told Motorsport.com.

“There are new people having come on board and I believe as long as there is progress and development and open-mindedness, this will be getting better.

“In my conversations with the president, there is the eagerness to learn and analyse it.

“You can see the document that was released after the Gasly incident – there’s complete transparency and no shyness about also pointing out the situation that can be improved.

“I just had a conversation with [Ben Sulayem] a few days ago and he said you always need to give us your opinion and opinion of the drivers, and I think that’s a good first step.

“Will it be ever perfect? No, because we are learning all the time.”

Suzuka was not the only tough situation the FIA have faced of late, also having to deal with the budget cap and Red Bull’s overspend.

Wolff previously welcomed the FIA’s handling of that.

“What I take as a positive is the strong governance,” he said. “Nothing was brushed under the carpet. The FIA stood by the process.

“And I think although the administration has only been in place for 10 months, it’s very encouraging to see things executed.

“That’s the real positive of the process. Mohammed [Ben Sulayem], with a strong group of individuals – Federico [Lodi, head of financial regs], Shaila Ann [Rao, interim secretary general for sport] and Nikolas [Tombazis, single-seater technical head], ensured the assessment and the policing of the cost cap was robust. And that is what I take as a positive out of the whole process.

“What we need to tidy up is the minor and major breaches. I think a breach is a breach. And that’s how it should be handled.”

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