Toto Wolff has questioned the FIA’s decision to name the Mercedes Formula 1 staff members who helped to prompt the investigation into Ferrari’s ERS system.
The issue is sensitive for Mercedes in part because the personnel in question – technical director James Allison and engine man Lorenzo Sassi – are ex- Ferrari staff, with the latter having worked at Maranello until last July.
Wolff says that the governing body should not be so specific in such cases, and should only suggest which team has made enquires about the legality of a rival’s car.
After race director Charlie Whiting spoke to journalists in Monaco, reports emerged confirming the names. Wolff subsequently met with Whiting, who pointed out that he had only acknowledged the names put to him by the media.
Asked if he felt that the Mercedes men had been “thrown under a bus” by the FIA, Wolff made his feelings clear.
“Yes,” he answered. “One of my roles is to protect my people, and if certain individuals are named in a wrong context, that is disturbing.
“First of all, the most important thing is to understand how the process goes and I guess you guys know that various teams question the FIA every single day. And I think it’s just important to not put somebody out there and say, ‘This person has questioned a legality topic.’
“If you say that a team has done that, it’s perfectly fine, that is modus operandi. But picking out individuals, and putting them out there is, I think, not the right thing to do.”
Whiting said that the names had already been in the media and that he had simply confirmed when asked by journalists.
“I had a chat with Toto this morning, I didn’t think it was any secret,” he said. “In fact when we had a little chat with the [media] guys yesterday it was they who came up with the
Ferrari man’s name [Sassi].”
He stressed that it was not unusual for teams to come to the FIA with questions about rivals.
“It was just one of those normal conversations you have with somebody. ‘We think Ferrari may be doing this and this because of that,’ and we went and checked. And we thought they could be doing that, let’s have a check and make sure. It took us a little while to get to that.
“As I say, it’s a pretty routine thing for people to come to us, especially when they’ve had staff members come from another team.
“Don’t forget, Lorenzo’s information is at least eight months old, which in F1 terms is quite old.”