Drastically increased maximum penalty
“Ridiculous” fines leave Formula 1 drivers stunned
October 20, 2023, 8:37 a.m
The world motorsport association is tightening its thumbscrews: it could cost Formula 1 drivers up to a million euros in the future if they behave contrary to the rules. The drivers are horrified.
The drastic increase in the possible maximum fine for serious rule violations in Formula 1 races has caused a lack of understanding and criticism among drivers. “I think it’s pretty ridiculous that a driver could be fined a million euros,” said Mercedes driver George Russell, who is also one of the directors of the drivers’ union, before the Austin Grand Prix. The 25-year-old added that the fines had gotten “out of control.”
The World Motorsport Council of the umbrella organization FIA had decided to increase the maximum possible fine from 250,000 euros to one million euros. The FIA cited the reason for the hefty surcharge as the fact that the sum had previously remained unchanged for twelve years and no longer corresponded to the current needs of motorsport. The adjustment affects all violations during a Formula 1 weekend that are punished by the race stewards.
“Some drivers earn less”
“That’s a lot of money. Some drivers earn less than that,” said Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc. Record world champion Lewis Hamilton was unsure about which offenses could be punished with such penalties. “We really need to think about what messages this sends to viewers,” said the Mercedes superstar.
Driver representative Russell called for more transparency in how fines are imposed and how the money is used. The Brit announced that he would address the issue at the drivers’ meeting in Austin. “These numbers are just made out of thin air. There are so many problems in the world and so much poverty, how can a world association invent six-figure and seven-figure fines?” asked Russell.
Teammate Hamilton was recently fined 50,000 euros for crossing the track during the race after his retirement in Qatar. Red Bull star Max Verstappen was sentenced to the same amount for illegally touching the rear wing of Hamilton’s Mercedes in Brazil in 2021. “If it costs 50,000 euros, I would like to know what you have to do for a million,” said the Dutchman.