The FIA technical gave rise to another controversy amid concerns from the frontrunners about Mercedes getting an advantage. A day after the regulation was announced, Mercedes tested a new flank in Montreal. And this led to speculations that the German team got wind of the change beforehand. Eventually, the spotlight shifted to a new employee named Sheila-Ann Rao, whom the FIA hired as their secretary general recently. Rao used to work as a Mercedes advisor before, giving rise to concerns about her fairness and impartiality, given her history. Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto also expressed concerns about Rao replacing Peter Bayer at the FIA under new president Mohammed ben Sulayem. However, the Mercedes boss finally responded to Binotto’s concerns and backed their former advisor.
The Ferrari team principal stated that Rao was a great person with lots of experience and capable of fulfilling her responsibilities. However, Binotto pointed out that it was still a concern. The Italian engineer hoped the FIA would make sure there were no conflicts of interest and do things properly. He was sure that the new FIA president would ensure that. However, it was still a concern for Ferrari. He added, “But I am sure through the behaviors, through the decisions, they prove it’s wrong concern.”
Meanwhile, the Mercedes team principal was unaffected by the reactions from other teams to Sheila-Ann Rao’s appointment. Wolff believed that Mercedes’ former advisor would do great in her new role. The former Austrian driver felt that the FIA was getting there, and the new president needed to put his team together and find his grip.
Wolff stated that Sheila is a lawyer, and she stands for integrity and transparency. Toto added, “We have had too many controversies in the past where things were not out in the open that should have. She is a guarantee for that.”
George Russell Praises Wolff’s Driving Skills
Mercedes’ George Russell was surprised by his Toto Wolff’s driving skills during a promotional ice rallying event earlier in 2022. The Briton shared that they participated in an ice driving event in Austria with many sponsors. The event concluded at six, but Wolff and Russell stayed until nine until it was quite dark. While George was in the passenger’s seat, Wolff was doing laps with their little rally car. The Mercedes driver revealed that he was quite surprised by his boss’ commitment and pace. George said that Wolff went off a few more times than he did. However, the former Austrian driver’s pace was pretty strong. Russell added, “So I’m learning new stuff about him.”