In the FIA’s International Sporting Code, the governing body has increased the maximum fine for F1 competitors from €250,000 to one million euros, a move which appeared to have caught teams and drivers off guard.
Several drivers, including GPDA director George Russell, voiced their concerns over what the Mercedes driver called “obscene” figures because a lot of drivers make nowhere near that amount at the start of their F1 career.
Russell’s team boss Wolff was equally concerned by the message it sends to F1’s fans in today’s “tough” economic climate.
“There needs to be some deterrent for grave infringements of the regulations, but none of that was on the radar of anyone that it would be coming,” Wolff said on Friday at Austin’s US Grand Prix.
“A million, we need to do a reality check with real life, whether that is an adequate fine or not. I don’t think we’ve ever fined a driver 250k, so raising the ceiling is something that one needs to understand where it comes from.
“I don’t think we want to portray Formula 1 out there in a world where it’s tough enough to give drivers fines of a million, I think half of the grid wouldn’t be able to pay them.
“I don’t think we should be playing around with those numbers that seem very surreal for people that are watching us.”
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Mike Krack, Team Principal, Aston Martin F1 Team
Aston Martin principal Mike Krack agreed with Wolff that the FIA “needs to come back to reality” with its fine hike.
“Yeah, I especially agree with what Toto said,” he said. “Let’s keep our feet on the ground to be throwing with such numbers.
“We have spectators here that are buying tickets already for quite high prices and by throwing numbers around like we do currently, I think we need to come back a little bit more to reality.
“There are a lot of drivers who don’t even make anything in these areas, so I don’t know where it came from. I was caught out as well when I read it.”
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Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
The FIA says the money from fines is re-invested at the grassroots level. According to Haas team boss Gunther Steiner drivers should have a say in where the money goes too.
As a precedent, Lewis Hamilton agreed with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem that his €50,000 fine for missing the 2021 FIA Gala in the wake of his controversial title loss became a donation to an underprivileged student.
“I think a few drivers brought it up, where’s the money going?” Steiner added. “In a lot of sports it goes to charities, which if I would have a vote in it, that’s what I would suggest.
“If somebody has to pay these high fines, at least he should be involved in saying where it is going, into a charity which he likes or something like this.”