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Russell: One million euro F1 fines seem "ridiculous" and "obscene"

Mercedes Formula 1 driver George Russell has slammed the FIA raising the maximum fines for grand prix racers to one million euros as "ridiculous" and "obscene".

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

In the FIA's International Sporting Code, the governing body has increased the maximum fine an F1 competitor can be handed from €250,000 to one million euros.

The update was made because the maximum fine had been left untouched in the regulations for the past 12 years and according to the FIA "does not reflect the current needs of motorsport".

Mercedes driver and GPDA director Russell felt the quadrupling of the FIA's maximum fine was "ridiculous" given that drivers who are starting out in grand prix racing often earn nowhere near that amount.

"I think it's pretty ridiculous that a driver could be fined €1m," he said ahead of Austin's US Grand Prix weekend.

"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.

"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?"

Russell says the drivers asked the FIA for more transparency on where the money from its fines will be used.

When asked if the issue will be brought up again in Friday's drivers briefing, he replied: "For sure. There's no doubt about it.

"We just want transparency and understanding. I think already the fines are getting out of control.

A huge FIA flag flies on the grid

A huge FIA flag flies on the grid

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

"[Max] Verstappen being fined 50,000 for touching a car. Lewis [Hamilton] being fined 50,000 [for crossing a live track 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?"

He added: "We've requested before from the FIA to hear where these fines are going toward, what causes they're going to. It needs to be reinvested into grassroots, but so far we've had no response on where that's going.

"If they truly believe a €1m fine is worthwhile and it's going to be reinvested into the sport, then maybe one of the drivers who's being paid a lot is happy to pay that fine. But it seems obscene."

The drivers in Thursday's FIA press conference first seemed to learn about the fine hike through the media, with Daniel Ricciardo labelling it as "scary".

"If touching your rear wing is 50k, then I would like to know what one million is," Verstappen quipped. "Then maybe we can sponsor also the bottles of wines. I'll get ready..."

Hamilton was aligned with his team-mate Russell on hoping that any monster fines would be put to good use further down the ladder.

"When it comes to things like this, we really need to be thinking the message that that sends out to those that are watching, he added.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

"If they are going to be fining a million, let's make sure that 100% of that goes to a cause.

"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."

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