– Red Bull had nothing to do with the FIA investigating a potential conflict of interest involving Formula One power couple Toto and Susie Wolff, team boss Christian Horner said on Wednesday.
Mercedes team boss Toto and F1 Academy series head Susie, the Austrian’s wife who works for commercial rights holder Formula One Management (FOM), were in the spotlight after the governing body issued a surprise statement on Tuesday.
In it, the FIA mentioned media speculation about “information of a confidential nature being passed to an F1 team principal from a member of FOM personnel” and said its compliance department was investigating.
According to a report in Business F1 magazine, other principals had raised concerns about possible leaks from private meetings.
“We have a big rivalry on track but we haven’t raised any official complaint either about Susie or Toto or Mercedes to the FIA,” Horner told Sky Sports television.
“In fact, Red Bull has been the team that has got most involved with Formula One Academy from its inception, to the point that between the two Red Bull-owned teams we’ll be entering three cars.
“I think we, like others, were quite surprised (by) the statement that came out last night. It certainly wasn’t instigated or required or set off by Red Bull.”
“This is an FIA thing. They’ve taken this action but certainly nothing to do with Red Bull,” he added.
Toto Wolff’s once-dominant Mercedes were champions Red Bull’s closest rivals last season and he and Horner have had a fierce rivalry over the years.
The all-female F1 Academy junior series is supporting seven grands prix next season. All 10 teams each nominate a driver and will have their livery on a car.
Susie Wolff issued her own statement on Tuesday saying she felt “deeply insulted” to have her integrity called into question.
She spoke also of “intimidatory and misogynistic behaviour” that was “focused on my marital status rather than my abilities”.
Mercedes also rejected allegations against Toto Wolff that the team said “wrongly impinges on the integrity and compliance of our team principal.”
Liberty Media-owned Formula One meanwhile expressed “complete confidence that the allegations are wrong”.