Toto Wolff has claimed that the FIA needs ‘a reality check’ after they opted to increase the maximum fines that drivers can face to £870,000 (€1m). The maximum penalty fee threshold had, until now, stood at £217,000 (€250,000).
According to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem made the changes to match the sport’s increasing profile with the responsibility facing the drivers. However, with such a staggeringly high figure decided upon, there was an impassioned response from within the paddock.
Addressing the controversy, Wolff stated: “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.
“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 250k, so raising the ceiling is something that one needs to understand where it comes from.
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“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. I don’t think we should be playing around with those numbers that seem very surreal for people that are watching us.”
Wolff’s star driver at Mercedes was also less than convinced by the changes made to the FIA’s fine structure with Hamilton claiming that the sum would have to go towards a worthy cause if he was to pay up.
“When it comes to things like this, we really need to be thinking the message that sends out to those that are watching,” Hamilton said when asked about the issue ahead of the United States Grand Prix. “If they are going to be fining [us] a million, let’s make sure that 100% of that goes to a cause.
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“There’s a lot of money in this whole industry and there’s 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 a chance to get into a sport like this. That’s the only way they’ll get that million from me.”
This was the second penalty-related incident surrounding Hamilton heading into the sprint weekend in Austin. The seven-time world champion was penalised and fined £43,600 (€50,000) for crossing the live race track in Qatar last time out.
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