Fines as a form of punishment are not unusual in Formula 1. Last race weekend in Qatar, Lewis Hamilton had to pay 50,000 euros (over 1.2 million CZK) for dangerously crossing the track after an accident. The FIA demanded the same amount from Max Verstappen in 2021 when he touched Hamilton’s rear wing after qualifying in Brazil, which is not allowed under the rules. And the penalty for Sebastian Vettel for driving a scooter around the race circuit? Five thousand euros, i.e. roughly CZK 120,000.
The governing body in the form of the FIA even has a set limit on the maximum fine it can issue. For twelve long years it was 250,000 euros (CZK 6.1 million), but even die-hard fans can’t remember the last time such a large penalty was awarded. Nevertheless, the management of the competition has now decided to increase the maximum possible fine. And that for exactly one million euros, i.e. almost twenty-five million crowns!
The official announcement of the fourfold increase came after a meeting of the World Council of Motor Sports in Geneva. “This amount has not been adjusted for at least twelve years and today no longer reflects the current needs of motorsport,” it says in a terse statement. At the same time, the International Automobile Federation did not give examples in which the pilot could receive a draconian fine.
And even though F1 drivers are among the best-earning athletes in the world, they don’t like such an increase one bit. “I really wonder what I would have to do to get a fine like that!” faced championship leader Verstappen at a press conference on the last race weekend in Texas. “It is a huge amount of money and I have no idea what kind of act deserves such a fine. Some drivers earn much less,” added Charles Leclerc.
After all, this was confirmed by the rest of the starting field. Daniel Ricciardo called the penalty as scary as it was, Kevin Magnussen also commented on it jokingly. “A million fine? That’s an insult, it sounds ridiculous. Sure, Charles Leclerc can pawn his watch… but I would have to evaporate and no one would ever find me again,” he added with a smile.
Lewis Hamilton explained the whole issue in his own way. He did not oppose the fine in any way, but stated that one hundred percent of the collected amount should go to a good cause. “There is a lot of money in this whole industry and we have a lot of work to do to create better access for sport, more diversity and better opportunities for all people. They will only get a million from me if the money goes to similar purposes,” concluded the seven-time world champion.
F1 driver salary information is tricky. No one will reveal the official amount, it is rather speculation that does not include additional bonuses, marketing activities or rewards for points and victories. According to one such ranking from the beginning of this season, Max Verstappen earns 52 million euros a year. He would probably regret the maximum fine a little less than Yuki Tsunoda or Logan Sargeant, who earn “only” a million for the whole year. Imagine if your entire annual salary went to a fine, and you have no idea what you can get it for.