Driv­ers call for bet­ter lead­er­ship in For­mula 1

F1 Racing (UK) - - INSIDER -

Let­ter from Grand Prix Driv­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion roundly crit­i­cises short-term think­ing in both reg­u­la­tory and com­mer­cial ar­eas

The For­mula 1 driv­ers have taken the ex­tra­or­di­nary step of de­mand­ing change at the top of the sport in an open let­ter crit­i­cis­ing the cur­rent governance struc­ture. The let­ter, writ­ten by Grand Prix Driv­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion di­rec­tors Jen­son But­ton, Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Alex Wurz “on be­half of the driv­ers”, says F1’s de­ci­sion­mak­ing process is “ob­so­lete, ill-struc­tured and pre­vents progress be­ing made”.

This, it says, “re­flects neg­a­tively on our sport, pre­vents it be­ing fit for the next gen­er­a­tion of fans and com­pro­mises fur­ther global growth”.

It adds: “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 suc­cess”.

The let­ter does not make spe­cific ref­er­ence to the is­sues that con­cern the driv­ers, but many of them have been crit­i­cal of the adop­tion of the new qual­i­fy­ing sys­tem over the win­ter, and sev­eral top driv­ers took part in a meet­ing with Pirelli in Fe­bru­ary in which they ex­pressed their mis­giv­ings about the cur­rent tyres. The let­ter, though, is more far-reach­ing than that.

They are un­der­stood to be con­cerned about many of the ideas that have come up in re­cent years for rule changes, whether taken up or not – such as weight hand­i­caps, stand­ing starts be­hind the safety car, the move to pay TV, tighter

But­ton, Wurz and Vet­tel are the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the GPDA, of which most (but not all) driv­ers on the grid are mem­bers re­stric­tions on passes, re­verse grids, sprint races, and hel­met de­sign re­stric­tions.

The let­ter adds: “We would like to re­quest and urge the own­ers and all stake­hold­ers of F1 to con­sider re­struc­tur­ing its governance. The fu­ture di­rec­tions and de­ci­sions of F1, be they short or long-term, sport­ing, tech­ni­cal or busi­ness ori­ented, should be based on a clear mas­ter­plan. Such a plan should re­flect the core val­ues of F1.

“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.”

The driv­ers em­pha­sised that the let­ter was “in­tended for the best in­ter­ests of all and should not be seen as a blind and dis­re­spect­ful at­tack”.

Wurz said the de­ci­sion to write the let­ter was passed by “an ex­tremely clear vote” and that it was “not a knee-jerk re­ac­tion to the qual­i­fy­ing ex­per­i­ment – the state­ment was well con­sid­ered and planned be­tween all the driv­ers”.

F1 com­mer­cial chief Bernie Ec­cle­stone ri­posted with an open state­ment of his own, say­ing, “It is easy to an­a­lyse what is wrong so why not think and come back on this”.

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