Concerns among the F1 grid over the increase on maximum fines by the FIA

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This week, the FIA made a surprising announcement regarding a significant increase in the maximum fine that drivers can receive. What was already considered a substantial sum has now been raised to an astounding €1,000,000.

In Thursday’s press conference ahead of the U.S Grand Prix, the news took many drivers by surprise.

“I would like to know what that offence can be! One mil! If touching a rear wing is €50k, then I would like to know what one mill is,” responded Max Verstappen. This sentiment was shared bymost drivers, as the FIA’s new guidelines have been rather vague.

Charles Leclerc was quick to point out the discrepancy in salaries across the grid and the repercussions of this change for those on the lower end of the scale. Kevin Magnussen added humorously, 

“Yeah, I don’t know what offence it is to be a million but that sounds ridiculous. I mean, Charles can give his watch – but I would disappear, never to be found again”

It’s a well-known fact that drivers at the back of the grid won’t be earning anywhere near the figures earned by drivers like Verstappen or Leclerc. For those earning less, the financial burden of such a hefty fine could be extremely damaging.

Known for his philanthropic causes over the years, Lewis Hamilton wondered who or what was going to benefit from these substantial fines.

Photo credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

“If they are going to fine people a million, let’s make sure one hundred per cent of that goes to a cause. There’s a lot of money in this whole industry and a lot more that we need to do in terms of creating better accessibility, better diversity, more opportunities for people who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to get into a sport like this. So many causes around the world. That’s the only way they’ll get that million from me.”

Hamilton’s charity, Mission 44, promotes the need for diversity within Formula 1 and the wider motorsport world. Actively speaking on opportunities for underprivileged individuals is a cause that he passionately encourages in the media.

During a media session with George Russell, he echoed sentiments similar to those of his teammate.

“We’ve requested before from the FIA to hear where those fines are going towards, what causes they’re going to. It needs to be reinvested into grass roots, but so far, we’ve had no response on where that’s going. We’d love to get some clarity and transparency, and if they truly believe a million euro fine is worthwhile, and it’s going to reinvest into the sport, then maybe one of the drivers who is being paid a lot is happy to pay that fine. But it seems obscene.”

He went on to say, “I think it’s pretty ridiculous that a driver could be fined a million euro. In my first year of Formula 1, I was on a five-figure salary, and actually lost over six figures in that first year for paying for my trainer, paying for flights, paying for an assistant, and that’s probably the case for 25% of the grid.”

The increase has stirred concerns among the grid. The lack of clarity regarding the destination of such costly fines and the financial burden they may cause for some has left many questioning the rationale behind these penalties.