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F1 drivers could lose racing licence for road offences
F1 drivers could lose racing licence for road offences
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Nov 2010   |  10:54 pm GMT  |  81 comments

The FIA General Assembly met today and voted through some important changes to the International Sporting Code.

The most eye catching is that “the FIA is allowed to impose sanctions on Super Licence holders who commit road traffic offences.” This is in light of Lewis Hamilton’s so called “Hooning” incident in Melbourne this year. With the FIA on a course of ramming home its Make Roads Safe message, it needed to have a lever over the most visible and high profile drivers -those in F1 – with regard to their behaviour on the roads.

Most F1 drivers I’ve ever known drive very fast on the roads and this will really clip their wings. A serious speeding offence could cost them in career terms with a licence suspension.

On the subject of licences, another important change is that all senior team members must have a licence to compete in F1. This comes in the light of the Singapore crash scandal, where the FIA had no jurisdiction over the perpetrators, only licence holders, at that time it meant only Renault and the driver Nelson Piquet Jr.

“All those involved in the FIA World Championships are directly subject to the FIA’s jurisdiction,” said the FIA statement. “Those who are guilty of conduct contrary to the FIA regulations will be denied access to the areas under the control of the FIA in the events counting towards these championships. The procedure for implementing this system will be examined within the framework of working groups specific to each of the FIA World Championships.”

Maxiumum fines were also raised to 250,000 euros and steps have been taken -in light of the spot fixing scandals in cricket – to protect F1 from corruption from betting.

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ABout the drivers loosing their Super License if theyare caught speeding, I think thats stupid. Thats like my boss firing me(I cant fire myself hehe ) because I got a speeding ticket, it isnt my bosses bussines what I do before I get to work, or after I leave, its my private life. Same thing goes for the F1 drivers, thats a separate entity dictating what they can or cant to in their private lives, just stupid!


I agree!

The fia cant control whats happening on the race track.ie ferrari.....

They have NO say over off duty anything.

They are the shifty fia not the police.


At one of the mobile phone operators in the UK (though probably all of them, to be honest) if you get pulled for talking on your mobile while driving (even outside of company hours) it's a disciplinary offence with the potential for dismissal


In one of the leading Companies in Chemical industry worldwide, they have one of the best safety management systems, achieving the lowest loss time accident rate of the industry.

If one of the managers has a road accident, then he loses his bonus that year. And obviously, this happens out of the working hours.

I've been told that they rarely happen to break the traffic rules...


That sounds like Du Pont, I used to work for them. It wasn't as you described back then. They used a rational procedure based on defensive driving, and a peer group would judge whether an incident was avoidable if the driver had anticipated and driven to try and avoid the possibility. Whether or not you'd broken the road laws had no part in that decision, so even if you'd been speeding two minutes before, it wasn't factored into the decision. If you had two incidents in a year that your peers judged avoidable, you lost access to the company cars and had to use your own. I admired that system for its good sense.

I suspect that the FIA is making a rod for it's own back. Here in Australia, the authorities can pull your license if you don't pay a parking infringement fine. In that instance, the FIA becomes the law governing whether or not a driver can be in F1. A lot of countries' legal systems have strong feelings about arbitrary monopolies. I can see another Briatore-style circus coming on, if the circumstances coincide. It's laughable when you consider how flexibly Todt interpreted regulation when he was on the other side of the fence, and if it's a "disrepute" measure, the FIA didn't really display any consistency when Mosley was conducting his "News of the World" sideshow.


What if you drove for a living? Then surely it would matter...


If a delivery driver lost their license for speeding, what do you think their boss would do?

I can see the point - it's under the general 'bringing the sport into disrepute' heading. Presumably the FIA have some discretion, although it might be the kind of thing that people will ignore until someone makes an example of them.


I like the idea of all top team members carrying the super license, but when it comes to drivers losing their license because of a traffic violation is a bit over-acting??

They cannot influence how a driver should drive his car on the road. Isn't it too much penetrating into thier social lives??

And I thought Max Mosely style of leadership is gone!!


How is speeding part of your social life?

Drivers are paid LOTS of money for what they do, they get to drive fast cars at speed every other weekend, this is just a move to put them in line with every other driving-related profession out there. And it's not like they lose their license for every public road offense. There are minor offenses which only carry a fine, and then there are major offenses which put people in danger and get your license revoked.


so, if you get fined for a speeding violation, do you think your employer should bother about it and ask you control your speed or worse fire you from your Job??

Don't you think it is ridiculous??


It depends. If you drive a company branded car and your business is road safety, then It's not ridiculous for your employer to care since you might damage the company's reputation. In this particular case the employer is the FIA, and they are indeed in the road safety business.


lewis is the best, therefore he is allowed to drive like that. plus the road is the only place we may get the chance to race these guys...


Another for the lawyers and the courts ... Get prosecuted in public life - then get prosecuted in F1.

I didn't think you were allowed to be prosecuted twice for one offence.


I don't think it's being prosecuted twice for the same offence ("ne bis in idem", as the ancient Romans said, LOL) but different punishments for different offences: as if you are found in possesion of illegal drugs, and you may be sent to prison for drug dealing and also get a sporting suspension for doping.


In this case its only one offence - Public speeding when prosecuted gets a public prosecution but where is the second offence - there is none.


Rickee, probably we could talk about two differente offences commited in the same moment: (i) against the road regulations, concerning the traffic safety; this offence will be punished by the Authorities with a fine, a driving license suspension, or even - in some countries - a jail sentence; and (ii) against the FIA regulations, concerning the public image of the sport.

If not, I must agree with you that this could be a clear case of forbidden "bis in idem", i.e., punishing twice the same offence.


That would only be a valid argument were the offence being prosecuted twice within the same legal framework, i.e. if the FIA disciplinary system was also part of the relevant national law. That obviously isn't the case - the FIA only has jurisdiction over specifically defined motorsport matters and takes no basis from national law. As Galapago555 says, they would be two different offences because the two different systems treat the matter differently: a national court will treat it as a violation of road traffic laws, while the FIA will treat it as breach of a rule of the sport. Both are within their rights to prosecute the matter on those terms because there is no conflict of laws.

Anyway, I don't see a problem with this really - a professional racing driver above anyone else should be able to control their right foot so if they get caught speeding it's fair game as far as I'm concerned. Obviously they'll need to make sure there is appropriate weighting with the punishments based on what they're prosecuted for but especially given the Make Roads Safe campaign which a number of drivers have signed up to I think the FIA is well within its rights to do this.


The problem with suspending the superlicences of drivers is how do you judge what is a serious enough offence to invoke it - Hamilton spun his wheels on a backstreet it was not as if he was racing someone on the road - would he have been banned for a number of races - how many? Wouldn't this just devalue the championship. I think this is just an extension of the PR-friendly PC blandness which afflicts current F1 - they are just stupid, petty, pointless regulations. The bottom line is that there is only one person responsible for safety behind the wheel and that is the driver him/herself. How Jenson, Lewis or Mark drive to the shops on a Tuesday will not influence a dangerous driver one way or another. I am in no way condoning F1 drivers driving badly on public roads but they should simply face the same punishments as the rest of us - as Lewis already has - no more, no less.

Wouldn't this also simply leave the FIA wide open to charges of favouritism and unduly influencing the championship - whilst we seem to have a fairly benign regime overseeing F1 at the present time this has not always been the case. The threat of suspending the licences of drivers or team personnel could be an all too tempting weapon with which to silence criticism or play favourites. I thought the powers-that-be were trying to move away from this...


Brian, excellent comment and the politics have been manipulated far too much in the past and it was great to hear " People Power" this year after the furore around MW getting a raw deal. I can see this new rule being used to manipulate the championship and to add to the FIA bank balance.


If the jobs of the FIA executive were dependant on them never committing a road offence, how many would keep them currently, I wonder?


"they should simply face the same punishments as the rest of us"

They do.

If somebody who drives for a living (delivery driver etc) loses their driving license, they lose their job. Same now applies to F1 drivers


Delivery drivers need their road licence to do their job. F1 drivers don't. It's DIFFERENT.


Personally I think that losing a super licence for road offenses is ridiculous, but hey... what do I know? Road safety and racing on circuits are not the same thing at all in my book.

James, could you spread more light on the steps being taken to protect F1 from betting scandals? Doesn't that call into question all over again the team orders stance? If a team alters the likely outcome of a race, the betting industry (and punters) lose out, or cash in depending on how they bet. It could be seen as match fixing to profit from favourable odds or to avoid a heavy loss by the betting industry.


Please first excuse me for not using the right betting words.

Let's see: don't you all think that the expected earnings by a bet for a certain driver's win are already taking into account that there is a strong possibility that he needs to work in favour of this teammate?


On your betting point; I think that if team orders is banned (as it currently is), then yes I agree, I can see that if I'd bet that Massa would win the German GP I'd have pretty annoyed at what happened... even though it happens all the time but that's a different point altogether :o)

But if it is changed back to officially being allowed, then it becomes something that is legal and therefore anyone placing a bet on F1 should be aware that it is a part of the sport, and so it would essentially be their own look-out if they place a bet on something they don't fully understand. That's my call anyway!


Being in the betting game I can confirm that team orders are already factored into the price. Even though team orders are banned we all knew it went on. Hence in the race in question in running (when you can bet in play) Alonso was still favourite to win the race even though he was still behind Massa.


I too had wondered this. The situation of team orders might be well and good for the teams to win championships, but you'd be pretty annoyed if you had for example $5000 on driver B to win a race but he moved over for driver A to win for the good of the team.


Will have to ask tomorrow at the track. It's midnight here


So if the FIA is against corruption from betting, shouldn't it also take steps to enforce penalties against breaches of its own rules that might affect the outcome of bets placed? For this reason alone - whatever else might apply - the team orders fiasco at Ferrari was inadequately dealt with by a fine. I am not a betting man but if I had placed money on anyone but Alonso to win the WDC and he were to win by less than 7 points, I think I might reasonably feel that the FIA had corrupted betting - not the other way round!


Pity the FIA hierarchy themselves aren't subject to a similar policy such as having their involvement in motorsport governance suspended should any of them run foul of traffic laws anywhere, this would send the message that the FIA is institutionally against traffic violations and not just making a PR stunt


I wholeheartedly agree.


Welcome to the new sterilized world!

Just imagine Ayrton Senna being stripped out of his super-license because of a speeding offense...

Times have really changed - but is it for good?


Well presumably he wouldn't have driven on the road as he was reported to have had there been that threat. The fact is he shouldn't have been driving on the road as he is reported to have. So to me this = a good thing.


Not only is this ridiculous, it is grossly unfair. Plenty of F1 stars get let off Speeding offences by infatuated Policemen in their own countries, but will get targeted in their rivals countries, just think about it.

Extreme speeding is not really a matter for lawmakers anyway, it is a matter between you and your own God. When you get above a certain speed, laws and stupid rules are irrelevant, Physics hold a far greater and more immediate punishment. All the more so for Bikers like myself, no Policeman, Rules or Laws have much effect at 180.


Typical extremely dangerous attitude from a speeding driver: I am above the rules, I know where to push and where to break, I know the limits.. and then you hit any other people with nothing to do with your grandiose delusion...

And may I say that if you are caught speeding at 180 - at least in Spain - policemen, rules and laws will have a strong effect in you!


We never really heard Briatore's take on the Singapore events. I assume he was guilty and just playing his cards in the legal avenues to duck his just retribution?


Well I think it used to be like that years ago. Ask Jackie Stewart, he received a serrious speeding ticket in New Zealand sometime in the late 60's or maybe 70. The up shot was he had to hire Me Trevor DeClean. (Lawyer) to get him of the charge as he could not race with nthe conviction.


I'm an expat New Zealander since the late 1970s. Why do I remember that name?


Oh, I just looked it up and the penny dropped. I dated some relative of De Cleene's back then....


The FIA is unable to properly stop race fixing through team orders.we can see Ferrari team drivers Massa and Alonso openly discussing how they will help each other win the Brazillian grand prix race tommmorow.Is that not race fixing?


I really don't see the problem with this, are we saying that F1 drivers should be above the law when it comes to driving on the normal roads? No.

If they drive legally they have nothing to worry about.


Great idea. I'm surprised this was not written before.

Good that the FIA tells formula one that it is only one of the smallest wheels in the house.


Have to agree with most comments here, it is inappropriate, and is only to allow the FIA to reply with appropriate sound-bites in response to the shrieking headlines when a well-known person behaves in any way badly.

We have only ourselves to blame for allowing the media (all of them, the papers, radio, 'net) to sensationalise anything to do with anyone whose name might be recognised by the 'public', and to gleefully report the most extreme reactions. These are normally NOT the initial reactions of most of the populace, but are then pounced upon by others to rant on about so that they themselves get quoted.

And on it goes ...

It's not about right or wrong any more, but about perceptions, which can be played with to get a reaction from people - so that 'interest' is created and all of the wannabees can be published making comments about it.

And F1, and what's best for it? Who cares ... and sadly it often seems that the FIA is not one of ones that does, as they have allowed so many to bring the sport into disrepute over the years (especially the last few), and might even be thinking that the injustices allowed and the subsequent furore is 'good for the show'.


What might be the consequences?

1)The risk of being caught with some stupid misunderstanding is too great(for both, team bosses and their drivers), racing drivers have to employ chauffeurs. This may lead to more Vettel-type drivers, boys without sense of reality or danger. Its more likely to get killed on the street rather than going round tilkedromes.

2)Drivers loosing some of their personality. Not a real problem. Of course its good that drivers are not allowed to act like a complete... They can play with extremely funny toys almost every weekend( and show their personality on racetrack), they should not have appetite for "hooning" or stuff like that at all.

I feel a little sorry for the drivers. When they started karting or raced some lower classes, their dream was to race at highest level, formula 1. Back then, nobody mentioned that they are forced to "make road safe, lets hug trees" campaign, if they still want to be connected with their dream.

Why they should get a double penalty for road offences? We all have to pay fine anyway. But should we lose our job altogether?


another decission that pushes me away from watching f1.I no longer go to the race tracks to watch f1 live. I went to sepang for the last moto gp race, and i enjoyed much more than the last time i saw f1. Keep going this way, and more fans will join me. The four cylinder turbos, it's one of those decissions.


"Maxiumum fines were also raised to 250,000 euros and steps have been taken -in light of the spot fixing scandals in cricket – to protect F1 from corruption from betting."

This would seem unequivocally to enforce the team rules ban with knobs on! I cannot understand why the betting industry did not take legal action against Ferrari or the FIA before; now we have a chap in Brazil making a name for himself by threatening Massa with six years in jail, obviously it should include the team manager or whoever issued the order. So much for doing away with team orders next year this does exactly the opposite! 🙂


Some years ago I temp'd at my local police station, processing speeding offences. One day I had to process such an offence committed by a very well known current F1 team boss. I recall that the speed he was clocked at would probably have resulted in a ban of some description. I also recall that he claimed that it was his wife who was driving.... Watch out, F1 spouses - you might be expected to take some pain now too...


I have a question. Wasn't the FIA supposed to clarify the rule about "team order"? When will they do so?


This suggests that perhaps you can only have a superlicense if you have a road license.

Drivers are getting younger and younger.

Stuart the old geezer

I seem to remember Stirling Moss lost his RAC Competition Licence when he lost his road licence at one point. I think he got around it my getting a competition licence in the USA. Anyone else remember this?

I am not familiar with the current method of awarding super licences, does it still go through scrutiny by the driver's home country's motor racing supervisory body? If the RAC still vet the process in this country, then it is not unreasonable they should withdraw a competition licence from someone who has lost his road licence as the result of a moving traffic offence or a series of such offences. In Lewis's case this did not happen, so there seems to be little justification in the suggestion that he should loose his Super Licence.


OK, I realise that the sport has to look like it cares, but come on...

On a Top Gear episode, Button described an overtaking move in Brazil last year, where he powersteered his F1 car on purpose, inches away from another car, to ensure that the other driver gave him enough room.

So there's nothing wrong with this, because it's done in a race, i.e. a controlled environment where all participants are highly trained individuals, in ultra-safe machinery... but are you seriously telling me that someone who can do this, while travelling at 80mph, is not to be trusted to burn some rubber in a powerful road car, while being practically stopped?

It's like prosecuting a fireman for lighting a match!


Actually, it's more like prosecuting a fireman for committing arson.


Actually it's not. Hooning, the charge Lewis Hamilton gets charged and fined in Australia for, consists of offences like "deliberately breaking traction". Pull their super licenses for speeding in the pit lane and see where that goes, FIA.


Exactly - but the simple act of lighting a match is, in itself, entirely legal. It's what you do with it subsequently that makes it a criminal offence (or not).

You may think that the acts made illegal by the hooning laws should be entirely legal, but they're not. That's why the analogy falls down because the simple act of lighting a match is legal (although arson isn't).

Your description of the injustice of the hooning laws could be equally applied to speeding offences - the authorities don't have to prove you're out of control, and that your actions don't even have to endanger someone, etc...


The point is that an arson charge requires that you use the match to set fire to something. Hooning laws say that you don't have to do damage, that the authorities don't have to prove that you're out of control, and that your actions don't even have to endanger anyone, but that at other times, in other circumstances and scenarios, a combination of similar acts MIGHT cause something. Is lighting a match arson?


Your point being what exactly?

Hamilton committed a road traffic offence. You may disagree with an aspect of the law, but it still applies nevertheless.

Comparing a traffic offence by a professional racing driver with a fireman lighting a match (an entirely legal act) is entirely false.


Viva Hulk

This is the driver Williams wants either to dump or to make him sign a 5 year contract with 15 millions exit clause.

I don't know what's their plan from now on but clearly he has no worries to have for his future. A good news for F1.


Jenson misery continues

I still think that Jenson isn't worthy of the world championship he clinched last year and he's continuing a trend he started last year with his performances decreasing as the season carries on.

He suffered from "lack of grip" which in English means "lack of talent". I think that next year will be his last season in F1 because Hamilton will destroy him.


My thoughts exactly.

As for super licenses 23 out of 24 best drivers in the "world"? can't drive in the wet even with wet tyres. Why have wet tyres then?

Yet in the Korean Grand Prix they can follow the safety car around for laps on end. Why not race at safety car speeds then and let's see who is the best . At least Lewis is a racer, but I have given up with Jenson. Turning out to be another David Couthard...nice people but not racers.Looks like we have to leave that to the Germans again. And why do the UK only have one and a half drivers yet the Germans have six?


IMHO, a priavte business should be able to fire any employee whenever they want (or in this case revoke their license) and does not have to specify a reason, (unless contracted).


So who makes that decision? A shareholder, a board member, an executive officer, a middle manager or the tea lady? The drivers aren't employed by the FIA, and arbitrary power of dismissal by a third party is frowned on by civil administration.


How does arbitrary dismissal come into this? The FIA isn't proposing to sack drivers for traffic offences, although it may suspend their licences for a time. There are plenty of examples of industries where individuals or companies require "licences to operate" from an external regulator.

At the moment, drivers can't compete in F1 without the relevant licence and the issue (and continuing validity) of that licence is within the FIA's discretion. This proposal is simply an extension of an existing principal.


FWIW, Tim, I say yes. Former World MotoGP champion Casey Stoner had been racing in GPs for two years before he qualified for a road license in Australia. All it displays is that there's no connection between the politics of road rules and the eligibility or suitability of competitors, because the road license is predicated on regulation, not competence.


The issue of racing licences is done (mostly) on the basis of the criteria set down in regulations, meaning little to no discretion. But who sets those criteria in the first place? Who can therefore change them? The FIA.

Remember also that FIA discretion is exercised in some cases - to issue Kimi Raikkonen with a superlicence in 2001, for example, when he lacked the necessary experience to earn one automatically. So discretion in issuing licences isn't new.

The Briatore penalty failed because Briatore wasn't a licenceholder and therefore the FIA had no jurisdiction. But drivers are licenceholders and willingly submit themselves to that jurisdiction by definition. If they don't like it, and the attendant fame and millions of dollars in sponsorship, they can go elsewhere.

All this boils down to a simple question - should people found not competent to hold a road licence be permitted to drive high powered racing cars in a competitive situation?


The license is issued to those competitors who've finished at a certain level in GP2, F3, and some other FIA championships, some national championships like IRL, and if a driver falls a little short, if his national FIA-affiliated body sponsors his application. It's not arbitrary, and if a competitor has reached the stipulated level, it's not discretionary. If the FIA tries to reserve the arbitration of whether or not a road offence is worthy of suspension, it potentially becomes discretionary determination of employment, capacity to participate in a championship, survival of a team whose sponsors are linked to a driver, manipulation of betting markets, and ultimately, a sham series. The FIA thought Briatore's penalty was simple, too.


Some people seem to be running straight from the headline to the comments section without taking a moment to either scan the whole article or apply any common sense. It doesn't say automatic suspension, it says the FIA wants the option to suspend drivers. It would look very bad for the sport if a driver were responsible for a serious road accident but continued to race. It's a good move.



I would like to know when I can download your browser toolbar. I looked for it and didn't find it.


where are you james? get back to work, and write your thoughts about the qualy on the brazilian gp. we are waiting.


This is a development that worries me a great deal.

Earlier posts have pointed out that some companies enforce disciplinary action against staff who break the law, for example using a mobile phone while driving, but this is for a particular reason - an accident caused by the employee while driving a company vehicle (or a private vehicle on company business) renders that company liable for damages. F1 drivers are not employees of the FIA and their conduct does not make the FIA liable for anything. This new restriction is pure political correctness - a few powerful people extending a dominating hand into the private lives and choices of others to force them to promote particular interests against their will.

The FIA has a campaign to promote road safety. That is a worthy thing but it has nothing to do with F1. The FIA might just as well be promoting knitting but we would be aghast if F1 superlicences depended on assisting that campaign or if knitters were to be denied participation because they had committed a speeding offence. The FIA should limit its superlicence conditions to the bare necessities in pure sporting terms and avoid the tyranny of political correctness - no enforced support of road safety, smoking reduction, obesity awareness or anything else that it imagines will improve its public image.

The FIA has its fingers in many pies but they are separate from each other. Forcing the participants in one activity to promote another is an abuse of power that may yet lead to a place we would rather not be.


If F1 drivers are sanctioned for road traffic offenses, FIA presidents should be impeached for dodgy whipping incidents.


Road traffic offences are, by definition, against the law. You may find the hobby of a certain former FIA president morally objectionable, but between consenting adults it's entirely legal.


unfortunately very same day when fia decided to punish pro drivers for civil accidents, in Croatia young driver Marin Čolak (last year raced in WTCC , year before in ETCC ) had accident in his ferrari. he was racing with another pro driver from croatia on zagreb - rijeka highway, he crashed, ferrari was caught by fire and young girl (20 years old) burned to death. he didn't use seat bell and that saved his live because he fall out from rolling car.


I understand that the FIA is giving itself the option to punish drivers for road traffic offences and, in the case of causing serious accidents and the like, it's a well to have a ruling in place. Most of the posters here are talking about speeding as though they all drive at 100 miles an hour whereas, the majority of speeding offences happen with speed cameras and 5 or 10 miles over the local limit. Since this is clearly not what the FIA have in mind, where do you draw the line?

Way back in the '90s the police would have a very profitable weekend stopping drivers on the M40 going to Silverstone, [perhaps they still do?] and caught Damon HIll en route to Silverstone from Williams HQ. Imagine the riot if he had not been allowed to race!

Yes, In the good old days, drivers had several driving licences so that if one was stopped they still had others to use. OK so not legal but common practice.

I wonder if drivers are 'signed up ' for road safety promotion work with or without their consent?


It's tiresome of all you brit media pundits always throwing Lewis under the bus.

Jenson should loose his license for being pathetic!


I would prefer it if the FIA would concentrate on getting the rules, and their implimentation in F right before they go way outside their jurisdiction (in my opinion) on this issue. This year we have seen Ferrari get away with a clear breach of a rule, the safety car at the finish at Monaco was another grey area, Lewis Hamilton's safety car issue *Valencia?) etc. Please concentrate on sorting those out first, I don't know who decided that sports stars should be role models, we don't expect this of film stars or rock stars.


Sport stars have big power of influence to millions of people around the world, something the same as film stars or rock stars. If people have this massive infuence to a lot of people, they must behave themselve.


If they break the law punish them in the same way as anyone else would be punished, and no more than that. To err is human as they say, and sports stars, film stars, pop stars etc are nothing if not human. I grew up in an era of punk music, George best and James Hunt. Not exactly the greatest of role models, but they didn't influence my behaviour, and neither will Lewis Hamilton showing off in front of a few fans influence my kids. It is my job to make sure they behave themselves, not Hamiltons, and certainly not the FIA's.

If we are not careful we will end up with a generation made up of a lot more Hannah Montanas than Jimi Hendrixs (feel free to extend this analogy into any field that seems appropriate) and I think that's a shame.


I agree. The F1 drivers should be ambassadors of road safety.

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