Home Sport F1 drivers say ‘obscene’ threat of R20 million fines is shocking

F1 drivers say ‘obscene’ threat of R20 million fines is shocking


F1’s top drivers have expressed shock at the possibility they could face fines of up to one million euros (R20.2 million) for breaches of the sporting code.

File picture: Mercedes Media.

Formula One’s top drivers have expressed their shock at the possibility they could face fines of up to one million euros (R20.2 million) for breaches of the ‘sporting code’ after ruling body the International Motoring Federation (FIA) quadrupled the limit.

Britain’s George Russell branded the initiative “obscene” and unrealistic, saying most drivers could not afford such heavy fines, confirming that the drivers were due to meet over the move.

“Maybe one of the drivers who has been paid a lot would be happy to pay that much, but it seems to be pretty obscene,” said Mercedes driver Russell, 25, having revealed that he lost money in the early years of his F1 career.

The limit had been unchanged for 12 years and the announcement came as a shock to most drivers.

Russell, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, said: “I think it’s pretty ridiculous that a driver could be fined one million euros. In my first years in F1, I was on a five-figure salary and lost over six figures in my first year, paying for my trainer, my flights and an assistant.

“And that’s probably the case for 25 percent of the grid. We’re doing what we love, so we’re not complaining about that, but if you take a year-one driver who probably by the end of the year is losing over 100,000 euros, you fine them one million euros. What’s going to happen?”

“We just want transparency and understanding. Already the fines are getting out of control.”

Williams driver Alex Albon confirmed the difficulties drivers would face.

“I think people wouldn’t realise, especially the first two, three years, four years of being a Formula 1 driver, the salaries are nothing like what people actually think they are,” he said.

“It would be a tough fine if you were to get into debt for it. We already pay our super-licence fees, which are already extremely expensive.

“I don’t know a sport where you have to pay yourself to enter it. I think that in itself seems a little bit different to most sports.”

He added: “In the end, if they’re going to raise that to a million, then they’re in some ways targeting three or four drivers because no-one else could actually afford that.”

‘Not appropriate’

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin said he felt the increase in the fines “sounds not appropriate”.

“We are in a sport that is already considered very elite, very closed,” said Alonso.

“We are facing some topics about sustainability, environment. We are trying to do all our part on becoming more accessible.

“This is sport for everyone and things like that so when you put this big number of something out that it seems not right.”

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, like Alonso one of the best-paid drivers over a long period, said: “If they are going to be fining a million, let’s make sure that 100 per cent of that goes to a cause.

“There’s a lot of money in this whole industry and there’s a lot more we need to do in terms of creating better accessibility, better diversity, more opportunities for people who wouldn’t normally have a chance to get into a sport like this.

“So many causes around the world. So, yeah. That’s the only way they’ll get that million from me.”

Newly-crowned three-time champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull said: “If touching a rear wing is 50k then I would like to know what one mill is.”

Agence France-Presse

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