George Russell slams ‘obscene’ FIA move as driver fines quadrupled

Michelle Foster
Mercedes driver George Russell gives an interview in the paddock.

George Russell calls for harsher penalties for off-track overtakes.

George Russell has joined the outcry over the FIA’s decision to increase the maximum fine for drivers from €250,000 to one million, calling it “pretty ridiculous”.

Ahead of the United States Grand Prix, the FIA confirmed that the World Motor Sport Council had agreed on a tweak to the International Sporting Code that would allow race stewards to fine drivers up to €1million [£870,000] in future.

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem noted at the meeting that the current €250,000 [£217,250] maximum “did not reflect the current needs of motorsport”.

George Russell questions FIA’s decision to increase maximum fines to €1,000,000

It’s fair to say the drivers have not welcomed the decision.

While Max Verstappen quipped he’d get ready to “sponsor also the bottles of wine” having joked back in 2021 that his €50k fine for touching Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing covered the cost of a nice dinner out for the stewards, Hamilton said the sport needs to think about the “message that sends out to those that are watching”.

As for Russell, the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director, says the amount is “ridiculous”.

He said as per Motorsport.com: “I think it’s pretty ridiculous that a driver could be fined €1m.

“In my first year of Formula 1, I was on a five-figure salary and actually lost over six figures in that first year from paying for my trainer, paying for flights, paying for an assistant. And that’s probably the case for 25% 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 because of the investments he has to make, you fine them a million. What’s going to happen?”

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He also wants to know where the money will go.

“For sure. There’s no doubt about it,” he said when asked if the drivers would raise this in Friday’s driver briefing.

“We just want transparency and understanding. I think already the fines are getting out of control. Verstappen being fined €50,000 for touching a car. Lewis being fined €50,000 [for crossing a live track in Qatar].

“It feels like these numbers are being plucked out of the air. When there are a lot of great global issues going on and so much poverty around the world, how a federation can just make up these six-figure, seven-figure fines?

“We’ve requested before from the FIA to hear where these fines are going toward, what causes they’re going to. It needs to be reinvested into grassroots, but so far we’ve had no response on where that’s going.

“If they truly believe a €1m fine is worthwhile and it’s going to be reinvested into the sport, then maybe one of the drivers who’s being paid a lot is happy to pay that fine. But it seems obscene.”

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