Mercedes had earlier questioned Ferrari’s battery system and how it was maybe giving them some extra advantage during races.
The FIA had launched a thorough investigation into the entire incident, and while they did find a few things ‘unclear’, in the end the verdict was ruled in favour of Ferrari, who were deemed to be clear of any ‘illegal’ activity.
In the aftermath of the incident, Charlie Whiting, the F1 race director revealed that Mercedes had actually asked for an investigation, with technical director James Allison and engine man Lorenzo Sassi leading the way.
Now, Sassi left Ferrari last July and Allison too was a former Ferrari employee, and thus Wolff felt that the FIA should have kept their names confidential.
Toto Wolff was furious with how Whiting handled the media. Revealing names in a public forum would put Wolff’s team in bad stead, something that is just not acceptable to the Mercedes man.
“Yes, the Mercedes men were thrown under a bus by the FIA.”
“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.” an angry Wolff said.
In his defence, Whiting claimed that the names were already out there and he was merely confirming whatever the media wanted to know out of him.
“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].” Whiting said.
Whiting further went onto say that such requests were pretty routine, especially when engineers and technical experts switch teams.
“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.” Whiting concluded.