PARIS, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Formula One’s governing body took legal action against French former F1 driver Philippe Streiff on Thursday for comments he made about an investigation into compatriot Jules Bianchi’s horrific crash.
The statement said International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt and FIA medical commission president Gerard Saillant, also both French, were dismayed to learn of his published remarks.
“Philippe Streiff’s insulting and defamatory comments are utterly unfounded and demonstrate malicious intent,” it added.
“In view of the seriousness of this deliberate attack on their reputations, they (Todt and Saillant) have had to ask their lawyers to lodge a complaint for public defamation and insult,” continued the statement, published on the FIA website.
Streiff, who is wheelchair-bound after a 1989 testing accident in Brazil, was quoted earlier in French media commenting on the FIA panel that investigated the Japanese Grand Prix accident.
Bianchi, managed by Todt’s son Nicolas, suffered severe brain injuries when his Marussia skidded off and ploughed into a recovery tractor in fading light in the October race at a wet Suzuka circuit.
He is now in hospital in the south of France.
Streiff has also been widely quoted commenting on the condition of seven times world champion Michael Schumacher, who suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident in the French Alps last year.
Todt, Schumacher’s former Ferrari team boss, and Saillant are both close to the German and his family. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Justin Palmer)