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F1 stars face €1m fines as chiefs clamp down – but Hamilton will refuse to pay

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FORMULA ONE stars face huge possible fines in the 2024 season after FIA chiefs QUADRUPLED the maximum punishment.

The previous maximum penalty that could be imposed on drivers for a serious offence – such as causing a collision – was £214,000 (€250,000).

F1 stars now face a maximum penalty fine of €1million under FIA rules

However, drivers could now be slapped with fines as high as £855,000 (€1million).

These new rules were approved by a World Motorsport Council meeting in Geneva last October.

The FIA explained the amendment to the International Sporting Code was made as previous rules “do not reflect the current needs of motorsport” after not being reviewed or amended in the 12 years prior.

Drivers were not consulted about the penalty hike, and many have already voiced dissenting opinions against the change.

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Following the announcement, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton declared he would refuse to pay the fines unless they met his conditions.

He said: “We do need to be thinking about the message that sends out to those watching. If they are going to be fined a million, let’s make sure 100 per cent goes to a good cause.

“It is a lot of money in this industry and there is a lot more we need to do in terms of creating better accessibility and diversity, that’s the only way they’ll get that million from me.”

The 39-year-old received the heaviest fines of any F1 driver last season with £43,400 (€50,700), including a half suspended €50,000 fine for crossing a live track at the Qatar Grand Prix following a crash with Mercedes team-mate George Russell.

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Russell, 26, is the director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association also slammed the decision.

He said: “I think it’s pretty ridiculous that a driver could be fined a million Euros.

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“In my first year in F1, I was on a five-figure salary and actually lost over six figures in that first year paying for a trainer, flights, an assistant and that’s probably the case for 25 per cent of the grid.

“We are doing what we love, so not complaining about that but if you fine him a million, I don’t know what’s going to happen.

“We’ve requested before from FIA to hear where these fines are going towards, what causes. It needs to be invested in grassroots but so far had no response on where that’s going.

“I would love to get some clarity and transparency, if they truly believe a million fine is worthwhile and going to reinvest into sport, then maybe one of the drivers who earns a lot is happy to pay that, but it seems obscene.

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

“Max Verstappen was fined €50,000 for touching a car in Brazil, Lewis being fined €50,000… it feels like these numbers are being plucked out of the air.

WHO COULD REPLACE HAMILTON AT MERCEDES?

Mercedes will have a vacant seat for 2025.

Here, SunSport’s F1 correspondent Ben Hunt looks at FIVE potential candidates who could replace him and partner George Russell in the Silver Arrows.

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Oscar Piastri – McLaren have sewn up Lando Norris to a new long-term contract that should (in theory) put him out of Mercedes’ reach. However, they are yet to tie down his teammate Piastri, 22. The Aussie has an excellent record and won the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles before spending a year on the sidelines with Alpine and getting his chance in F1 with McLaren. He impressed on his debut season last year and has the potential to be a world champion.

Daniel Ricciardo – The experienced driver’s future remains in doubt as he bides his time at Red Bull’s B-team. Ricciardo would be low-hassle and offer some stability but by that time he would be 35. It seems unlikely that they would opt for him at this point in his career, but if he has a good season this year, he could come into the reckoning.

Kimi Antonelli – You may not have heard of the Italian, but he is mustard. Still only 17, he has won at all the junior categories and has been part of the Mercedes young driver programme since 2019. This season he has been promoted from F4 to F2, where he has been tipped to shine. A good debut season in F2 could sway Mercedes into taking a risk on him for 2025. Antonelli and his family are close to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

Mick Schumacher – Wolff has always been so incredibly supportive of Schumacher and spoken highly of him, that you’d at least expect him to come into consideration. He knows the team from his role as reserve driver and consequently would get up to speed. But speed is also the problem. He was shocking at Haas and if he really was THAT good, he’d still be driving in F1.

Alex Albon – A more-sensible choice would be the London-born Albon. A great guy who is also very quick. He has a fantastic relationship with Russell and would be the low-maintenance quick partnership similar to Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas that swept to successive titles. Albon would take little convincing to join from Williams and Mercedes would not need to pay him half of the £50million they were dishing out to Hamilton.

“There’s a lot greater global issues going on and so much poverty around the world how can a federation make up these fines?

“I don’t know what you have to do to get a fine of million euros, I don’t know of any sport or profession outside of the corporate world where you can be fined that amount.

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“For me, it sounds obscene and there needs to be a lot more transparency about where these fines are going.

“There needs to be a much better dialogue between FIA and drivers.”

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc argued: “It’s a huge amount of money. I have no idea what deserves a 1m euros penalty, some drivers are making less than that.”

Meanwhile, RB’s Daniel Ricciardo said it was “scary” and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen added it was “ridiculous”.

But the FIA point out that while the previous limit was €250,000, no offence had been deemed worthy of issuing the maximum penalty.

The new F1 season begins this Saturday in Bahrain.

Sky Sports F1 pundit Ted Kravitz has revealed where he believes the teams rank after pre-season testing, with Kravitz not having the best news for Hamilton and Russell with Mercedes.

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🏁 Complete F1 2024 race calendar – details on every Grand Prix and start time this year 🏁 

Source: The Sun

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