The FIA has issued a formal warning to Toto Wolff and Fred Vasseur for comments made during an official press conference ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Formula 1 Stewards issued formal warnings to both Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff and Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Fred Vasseur after an Abu Dhabi hearing, for remarks they made at Las Vegas Grand Prix that contained expletives.
The incident happened last Thursday night during the FP1 stoppage, following serious damage to Esteban Ocon’s Alpine and Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari from a loose water valve cover.
The conference host, Tom Clarkson, initially focused to interview Vasseur about general matters regarding Ferrari’s season. However, the Scuderia boss was centered on his rage over what had transpired on the track.
Vasseur gave brief, snappy answers to the questions put to him, expressing his dissatisfaction with the events that had transpired and describing Sainz’s damage as “unacceptable.”
“This [situation] will cost us a fortune – we f****d-up the session for Carlos,” he said.
When Vasseur was told at one point that this would be his final press conference, he responded, “At least good news.”
Although Wolff tried to appease him, he later became enraged. He was questioned if the practice session delay was a “black eye” for Formula 1 considering the significance of the Vegas event.
It seemed like a fellow journalist interrupted him mid-answer after he questioned how Wolff could say it was “nothing”. Instead of focusing on the questions, Wolff’s detractors were the highlight of his comments.
“How can you even dare try to talk back about an event that sets new standards for everything?” Wolff asked. “And then you’re speaking about a f***ing drain cover that’s been undone, that’s happened before, that’s nothing.”
Wolff and Vasseur’s remarks led them to receive a stewards’ summon during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend since there was no enough time to handle the situation at Las Vegas Grand Prix.
The matter “concerning the use of certain language” in their responses was the subject that the stewards’ summons indicated Vasseur and Wolff would need to address.
The statement from the Stewards read: “Based on the submission from the FIA, the FIA regards language of this type to be unacceptable, moving forward, particularly when used by participants in the sport who have a high public profile and who are seen by many, especially younger followers of the sport, as role models, and that in future the FIA will not tolerate the use of such language in FIA forums by any stakeholder.”
In Wolff’s case, the stewards added: “Based on the submission from the team principal, the use of the language concerned was, in this case, unusual and was provoked by an abrupt interjection during the press conference and therefore cannot be regarded as typical from this team principal.”
In Vasseur’s case, the stewards noted: “In this case, the team principal was extremely upset and frustrated by the incident that has that had occurred in FP1 and that language such as this, by him, was not usual.”
The stewards stated that there were mitigating circumstances, so they felt that “a formal warning” was adequate. The hearing in Abu Dhabi is scheduled to get underway shortly.