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Fri, March 22, 2024

F1 team bosses urge for transparency from FIA

F1 team bosses urge for transparency from FIA

Photo credit: Lukas Raich 

McLaren boss Zak Brown called on Formula One's governing body FIA to be more transparent about its recent investigations, saying the sport would struggle to move on while questions remained unanswered.

It comes a day after FIA’s ethics committee cleared its president Mohammed Ben Sulayem of “any wrongdoing” over allegations of interference. Ben Sulayem was accused by a whistleblower of attempting to unduly influence F1 processes on two separate occasions. However, the FIA provided little detail about the judgements in each case and declined to comment further on them.

F1 Academy boss Susie Wolff has also filed legal action against the federation for its investigation into an allegation of a conflict of interest between her and husband, Toto, who is the boss of the Mercedes F1 team.

The new season has also been overshadowed by allegations of misconduct against Red Bull boss Christian Horner by a female employee. Horner, who denied wrongdoing, was cleared by an independent investigation while the employee was suspended.

McLaren boss Zak Brown said on Friday: "All the items that have come to light here in recent times are very serious situations. I think we're living in 2024 not 1984, which means total transparency.”

"I think the three situations are different but all very serious and I think we need to make sure that things are done in a transparent, truly independent manner. I think everyone should welcome transparency.”

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur also called for greater transparency, but perhaps went against the prevailing feeling around F1 when he suggested it is only the media -- not people within the sport or its global fanbase -- who care about the stories.

A unique insight was also given on Friday in the form of Peter Bayer, the new CEO of Red Bull's junior team RB. Bayer joined RB after a long stint at the FIA, most recently as executive director for F1.

"There is an independent ethics committee. Since when I was there, we established the compliance officer, whistleblowing hotlines and other bits. And I think one thing that we see is the sport has grown massively in a very short amount of time. And a lot of people are asking for transparency.”

"I guess we will have to try and understand where we can have transparency, because when it's about individual topics or complaints coming through a whistleblowing hotline, you have to make sure that there is an absolute guarantee and protection of the people doing whistleblowing.”

Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton also said the sport needs greater transparency and accountability, amid a rash of off-track controversies.

Hamilton said he was “incredibly proud” of Wolff and that she was “brave” and “stands for such great values.”

“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.”

“I love that she’s taken it out of this world, fighting it from the 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 really no accountability, and we need that. I think the fans need that.”

“It is still a male-dominated sport, and we’re living in a time where the message is if you file a complaint, you will 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 we stay true to the core values.”

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