By Adam Tate, Managing Editor
Formula One drivers have finally had enough. On the heels of some of the sports biggest stars criticizing recent moves by Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA, the GPDA: Grand Prix Drivers Association, has released a statement bashing recent decisions which jeopardize the future of the sport, like the recent qualifying fiasco in last weekend’s season opening Australian Grand Prix. According to GPDA chairman, Alex Wurz, the drivers have considered speaking up for some time, and it seems now is finally the moment.
It couldn’t have come at a better time. With Ecclestone’s leadership clearly in question, CVC still milking the sport for all its worth and ever looming regulation changes to the cars for 2017, FIA President Jean Todt has many things he must answer to. Thankfully Todt’s usual policy of doing absolutely nothing, won’t cut it this time. The men behind the wheel are finally making their voices heard and it is abundantly clear that they want to be consulted to a far greater degree when the various bodies that assert control of Formula One get together to make decisions on the future of the sport.
Below is the text of the full statement.
Dear Formula 1 stakeholders, followers and fans,
The Grand Prix drivers would like to state our following position: We drivers love our sport! Since childhood, we dreamed of racing the fastest race cars from the top teams on the coolest tracks against the best drivers in the world. We seek competition and love F1 almost unconditionally, which makes us most probably the people with the purest interest for Formula 1, beside our fans.
Formula 1 is currently challenged by a difficult global economic environment, a swift change in fan and consumer behaviour, and a decisive shift in the TV and media landscape. This makes it fundamental that the sport’s leaders make smart and well considered adjustments.
We feel that some recent rule changes – on both the sporting and technical side, and including some business directions – are disruptive, do not address the bigger issues our sport is facing and in some cases could jeopardise its future success. We know that among the leaders of the sport – be it the owners, their representatives, the governing body, the teams or other stakeholders – every individual acts with the very best intentions.
Therefore, the drivers have come to the conclusion that the decision-making process in the sport is obsolete and ill -structured and prevents progress being made. Indeed, it can sometimes lead to just the opposite, a gridlock. This reflects negatively on our sport, prevents it being fit for the next generation of fans and compromises further global growth.
We would like to request and urge the owners and all stakeholders of Formula 1 to consider restructuring its own governance. The future directions and decisions of F1, be they short or long term, sporting, technical or business orientated should be based on a clear master plan. Such plan should reflect the principles and core values of Formula 1.
We need to ensure that F1 remains a sport, a closely-fought competition between the best drivers in extraordinary machines on the coolest race tracks. F1 should be home only to the best teams, drivers and circuits, with partners and suppliers fit for such an elite championship.
Formula 1 has undoubtedly established itself as the pinnacle of motorsport and as such one of the most viewed and popular sports around the world. We drivers stand united, offer our help and support for F1 to keep it as such, and further to make it fit and exciting for many years and generations to come.
It is important to state that this open letter is intended in the best interests of all and should not be seen as blind and disrespectful attack. Thank you for your attention and granting us the liberty to put our thoughts into words.
Best regards, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Alex Wurz, on behalf of the Grand Prix Drivers
The ripple effect of such a statement is going to be felt from the FIA to the teams and everyone in between. The drivers finally seem to be using the GPDA as it was originally intended with some of the strongest wording since its massive safety push led by Jackie Stewart in the 1970’s. We will follow the story and keep you up to date with the latest developments.