19 October 2023

F1 drivers express concern as governing body increases size of fines

19 October 2023

Lewis Hamilton and his fellow Formula One drivers could be fined up to one million euros following a dramatic change to the sport’s rulebook.

Ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, F1’s governing body announced it has increased the maximum sanction that stewards can impose on a driver from 250,000 euros (£218,000) to 871,500 euros (£760,000).

The FIA said the amount had been static for the last 12 years and “does not reflect the current needs of motor sports”.

But the decision was met with surprise by the grid’s drivers. Daniel Ricciardo, back in action after missing five races with a broken hand, calling it “scary”, and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen branding the move “ridiculous”.

Hamilton, who next season will start a new £100million two-year deal with Mercedes, said: “If they are going to fine us one million euros, let’s makes sure that 100 per cent of that goes to a cause.

“There is a lot of money in this industry and there is a lot more that we need to do to increase diversity, improve access and create more opportunities for people who don’t have an opportunity to get into a sport like this.

“That is the only way they will get that money from me.”

Hamilton also accused the FIA of “poor communication” following the governing body questioning his status as “a role model” after he walked across the track at the previous round in Qatar.

If they are going to fine us one million euros, let's makes sure that 100 per cent of that goes to a cause

Hamilton, 38, was fined £43,350 – half of which is suspended for the remainder of the season – in the hours after the race on October 8 in which he crossed the circuit following a first-corner crash with Mercedes team-mate George Russell.

But seven days after the incident in Lusail, and in a largely unprecedented move, the FIA said Hamilton’s actions are under review.

A spokesperson for the governing body said: “In view of Lewis Hamilton’s role model status, the FIA is concerned about the impression his actions may have created on younger drivers.”

It is understood that the FIA is planning to meet with the seven-time world champion here in Austin.

It is unlikely Hamilton will face additional penalties – with the FIA opting against taking the case to the International Court of Appeal to increase his fine – but harsher punishments could be handed out in the future for a similar infringement.

“I don’t think I was singled out,” added Hamilton. “Ultimately, it was just poor communication. I don’t think what they said is what they meant.

“They are looking into how they can tackle these things going forward to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“There was a karting incident where a kid was hit when he walked on to the track so we need to make sure we focus on safety and that was the root of it. But they need to speak to their PR agent to do a better job.

“Their actual point is important. When I sat in the stewards’ office I put my hands up and acknowledged that in the heat of the moment it was the wrong decision. I apologised at the time.”

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