George Russell has backed Lewis Hamilton after his Mercedes team-mate was fined heavily for crossing the track in Qatar. The British driver has pledged to raise the issue with the FIA after they revealed a new fine structure this week.
Under the previous regulations, the maximum possible fine a driver could receive would be £217,000 (€250,000), but after the latest meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, that threshold has been bumped up to an eye-watering £870,000 (€1m).
This has naturally provoked a strong response from some of the drivers with Russell, who is currently the chair of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, making his stance known on the matter.
“I think it’s pretty ridiculous that a driver could be fined €1m,” Russell said when asked about the FIA’s new fines. “In my first year of Formula 1, I was on a five-figure salary and actually lost over six figures in that first year from paying for my trainer, paying for flights, paying for an assistant. And that’s probably the case for 25% of the grid.
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“We’re doing what we love, so we’re not complaining about that. But if you take a year one driver who probably by the end of the year is losing over €100,000 because of the investments he has to make, you fine them a million. What’s going to happen?”
The 25-year-old then ensured that he would be raising the issue with the FIA directly ahead of this weekend’s running at the United States Grand Prix. This will be done during the driver briefing on Friday afternoon.
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“We just want transparency and understanding. I think already the fines are getting out of control. Verstappen being fined 50,000 for touching a car. Lewis being fined 50,000 [in Qatar].
“It feels like these numbers are being plucked out the air. When there’s a lot of great global issues going on and so much poverty around the world, how a federation can just make up these six-figure, seven-figure fines?”
This sentiment was echoed by Russell’s Mercedes team-mate with Hamilton suggesting that the only way he would be happy to cough up the maximum fine would be if that money was being reinvested into the sport in order to help alleviate the diversity and accessibility issues facing F1.
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