Toto Wolff calls for FIA ‘reality check with real life’

The FIA have quadrupled the maximum fine that a driver can receive from the stewards.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has called for the FIA to undergo a “reality check”, after they increased the maximum a driver could be fined by the stewards to a ridiculous €1 million.

Prior to the change which was announced ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, the maximum a driver could be fined by the stewards was €250,000.

Clearly then, in a time when prices are rising exponentially across the world in all departments, increasing the maximum possible fine by four times has left some calling for the FIA to open their eyes to “real life”.

What exactly a driver has to have done wrong to be fined the seven-figure sum is unknown, although the FIA’s argument for increasing the maximum is because it “has not been reviewed nor amended for at least the last twelve years”, and that the previous limit “does not reflect the current needs of motor sport”.

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Wolff and practically the entire Formula 1 paddock were left stunned by the governing body’s decision, with the Mercedes boss noting that “half of the grid” wouldn’t even be able to pay the fine if they were slapped with it.

“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,” Wolff told reporters at the US GP, as reported by The Mirror.

“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 250,000 euros, so raising the ceiling is something that one needs to understand where it comes from.

“We don’t want to portray Formula 1 out there in the world where it’s tough enough [already], to give drivers fines of a million, I think half of the grid wouldn’t be able to pay them. I don’t think it is adequate considering… I don’t think we should be playing around with those numbers that seem very surreal to people who are watching us.”

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Several drivers spoke in anger and disbelief on Thursday ahead of this weekend, with Alex Albon having said the exact same as Wolff, that most of the drivers on the grid wouldn’t even be able to afford the fine.

In fact, the Williams driver noted that it’d even force some into debt.

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Lewis Hamilton went a step further and insisted he wouldn’t be paying the fine if he was ever presented with it, unless the governing body could prove that the entire amount would be used to help causes.

“That’s the only way they’ll get that million from me,” Hamilton stressed in the pre-weekend press conference.

Max Verstappen was another who questioned what exactly could result in a fine that large, given that the original value of €250,000 had never been awarded to someone.