Guenther Steiner jokes about being ‘more careful’ in light of new FIA decision

Michelle Foster
Haas team boss Guenther Steiner speaking in a press conference as Toto Wolff watches on.

Guenther Steiner and Toto Wolff weigh in on FIA's 1 million limit

Guenther Steiner has joked he’ll have to be more careful having already twice been rapped over the knuckles by the FIA as stewards now have the scope to dish out fines of up to one million Euros.

Motorsport’s governing body announced earlier this week that the World Motor Sport Council had signed off on quadrupling the maximum fine that can be imposed on the F1 drivers from €250,000 to €1 million.

Justifying the decision, the FIA said in a statement: “This amount has not been reviewed or amended for at least the last 12 years and does not reflect the current needs of motorsport.”

The FIA’s increase has been questioned

The announcement did not go down well with the drivers, Daniel Ricciardo calling it “scary” while George Russell says it is “obscene” and “pretty ridiculous”.

Their team bosses also aren’t impressed, one of those being Steiner who has a history with the stewards.

He was fined after the 2019 Russian Grand Prix for a radio outburst when he blamed a “stupid idiotic steward” for Kevin Magnussen receiving a penalty, and earlier this year he was handed a reprimand for comments made during his Spanish GP media briefing when he called the stewards “laymen”.

Asked for his thoughts on the maximum one million Euro fine, he said during Friday’s press conference in Austin: “I’m worried because I don’t want to be the first one to get into that area.

“I guess I need to be careful what I say now because normally it’s getting me here, from these four gentlemen.”

On a more serious note, the Italian said he was surprised by the FIA’s decision as even the previous maximum of a quarter of a million Euros is not something to scoff at.

“I think for me it was very unexpected how it came along. Is it needed? I mean, 250,000, I think it’s Euros, it’s quite a lot of money in my world, you know,” said the Haas team boss.

“There are people, drivers, which make a lot of money out there, and all that. But obviously, it’s earned, it’s not given for free.

“So, if you do something you shouldn’t be doing, there is a limit to what you should fine somebody. It needs to be realistic.

“And also, I think a few drivers brought it up: where’s the money going? In a lot of sports, it goes to charities, which if I would have a say in it, a vote in it, that’s what I would say.

“I would suggest, you know, if somebody has to pay these high fines, at least he should be involved in saying where it is going – to a charity which he likes or something like this.

“So, I mean, I don’t understand why we need this high level of fines. I mean the best is to try to stay out of it or not get one.”

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Toto Wolff calls for a ‘reality check’

His Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff reckons, in theory, upping the maximum possible fine is a good thing, but he too wonders if Formula 1 doesn’t need a “reality check” given most fans would think that number is “surreal”.

“I think that 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,” said the Austrian.

“I think 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 250. So raising the ceiling is something that one needs to understand where it comes from.

“And 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.

“And I don’t think it’s adequate considering… 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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