Daniel Ricciardo brands it “scary”, Kevin Magnussen “ridiculous”, George Russell “obscene” but perhaps Charles Leclerc summed it up best when he said “I have no idea what deserves a €1 million penalty.”
After the FIA published a statement detailing the ins and outs of the latest World Motor Sport Council meeting in Geneva, one thing immediately caught the eye among the various calendar announcements, rule tweaks and general notices.
That the maximum fine a competitor in Grand Prix racing – whether it a be driver, or team, or even event host, had been quadrupled from €250,000 up to €1 million.
For other FIA World Championships such as Formula E, the World Endurance and World Rally championships, the fine is up to €750,000 while for other FIA series it is just €500,000.
The seven-figure fine that could now be handed out to a F1 driver is something likely only a handful of the best renumerated would ever be able to stump up. The fact is that a vast majority of the grid are not in the position to lose such an enormous figure from their bank accounts.
So, the question is then, why has the WMSC made the change to the International Sporting Code – and in what circumstances could a competitor ever be hit with such a large fine?
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Why has the change been made?
The ISC determines how much stewards – who are independent of the FIA – can impose on drivers or teams in terms of fines.
However, the €250,000 threshold “had not been reviewed nor amended for at least the last 12 years and does not reflect the current needs of motor sport,” read the FIA statement, thus the decision was made to quadruple the maximum fine.
It should be made clear that is is extremely unlikely any driver will ever face such a sanction – while some teams have faced multi-million settlements in the past.
Red Bull received a £6,156,429 fine for breaching for 2021 cost cap after entering into an Accepted Breach Agreement with the FIA, while in 2007, McLaren was famously fined $100 million for its involvement in Spygate.
In reality, it paid something closer to $31 million, but to this day, it remains the larget fine in the history of sport.
Drivers are sometimes fined misdemeanours on track, including pit-lane speeding but this is usually minimal, although Lewis Hamilton received a €50,000 fine, half of which is suspended until the end of the season, for crossing a live track in Qatar after his first lap DNF.
Perhaps the most famous driver fine of all-time was the $100,000 handed to Ayrton Senna for his deliberate taking out of Alain Prost at Turn 1 of the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix.
Adjusted for inflation and into today’s money, that fine works out at about €222,771.41. This is in line with the previous €250,000 mark.
In essence, the new €1 million fine is the strongest deterrent yet for drivers to behave on track. If you don’t want a seven-figure fine to pay, simply follow the rules and don’t do anything to endanger yourself or others.
Then it won’t be a problem.
What do the drivers think?
As the most successful active driver, Hamilton felt the threat of a €1 million fine should ensure that every penny is reinvested back into grassroots motorsport.
“When it comes to things like this, I really do think we need to be thinking about the message that this sends out to those who are watching,” he explained to media including RacingNews365.
“If they are going to be fining 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.
“There are so many causes around the world, and that’s the only way they’ll get that million from me!”
Old title rival Max Verstappen even remembered the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix where he was fined €50,000 for touching the rear-wing of Hamilton’s Mercedes in parc ferme.
“I would like to know what that offence can be for one mil,” he said.
“If touching a rear wing is €50k, then I would like to know what one mill is. Then maybe we can also sponsor the bottles of wine. I’ll get ready!”
What do you think of the new €1 million fine for drivers and teams? Let us know in the comments section below and by voting in the poll!
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