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Formula 1

Wolff leads calls for 'reality check' over 'worrying' €1 million fine

The quadrupling of the maximum amount a driver or team can be fined has drawn criticism after the WMSC approved the change.

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Toto Wolff believes a "reality check with real life" is needed after the World Motor Sport Council agreed plans to fine Formula 1 drivers or teams up to €1 million.

Ahead of the United States Grand Prix, the WMSC met in Geneva, with the headline being the quadrupling of fines competitors in F1 can be fined under the International Sporting Code from €250,000 to €1 million for Grand Prix competitors.

GPDA director George Russell blasted the move as "obscene", pointing out that a vast majority of drivers would not be able to afford the seven-figure sum if stewards ever handed it out, while Charles Leclerc could not conceive of a scenario in which a driver could commit an offence so severe as to warrant it.

The rationale behind the decision was that the €250,000 fine had not been updated in nearly 12 years, and there was a need to bring it into line with modern motorsport.

However, Wolff and other leading team bosses have questioned the raise, believing it was "not on the radar of anyone."

Bosses confused over new F1 fine

"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 media including RacingNews365 of the new fine.

"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, 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."

Aston Martin boss Mike Krack echoed Wolff's thoughts, making a point related to ticket prices for fans.

"Let's keep our feet on the ground in throwing around such numbers," he said.

"We have spectators here that are buying tickets already for quite high prices, and by throwing numbers around as we do currently, I think we need to come back a little bit more to reality.

"There are a lot of drivers who are not even making [this type of money].

"I don't know where it came from. I was caught out when I read it."

When he was asked about the fine, Lewis Hamilton suggested more clarity should be given over exactly how and where the FIA invest the money, something Guenther Steiner of Haas agreed with.

"It needs to be realistic, and also a few drivers brought it up: where's the money going?'," Steiner added.

"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.

"I don't really understand why we need such a high level of fine, I mean, the best [thing] is try to stay out of it and not get one."

F1 2023 United States Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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