Formula 1 drivers' union GPDA gets full membership ahead of key changes
While Alexander Wurz, Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean headed the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), the group had several other active Formula 1 drivers missing from union in the recent years.
However, the chairman of the GPDA, Wurz, on Wednesday confirmed that the association has now got a full membership from the drivers, with more joining in as official members of the group to put out a unanimous decision for the future of the sport.
"The GPDA now has 100 percent membership for the first time in recent memory and maybe history," said Wurz in a BBC report. "So, it was a very good year. F1 is entering a period of evolution, change and perhaps even a degree of turmoil.
"All the drivers recognise that they must be united and represented, in order to face that challenge and prevent any politics or fights for power from ultimately compromising on track performance. The drivers believe unity is fundamental for the sport's success."
Wurz felt proud that GPDA's inputs were taken into accord by the FIA and the F1 management, whether that under Bernie Ecclestone and or the Liberty Media in the recent rule changes in 2017, which brought new vigor in the racers, driving these cars.
However, with more unclear changes proposed by the Liberty Media and several other problems still prevalent, the drivers want to have their say in the matter and point out the areas which is a cause of concern. Some of them are:
- The increasing use of asphalt run-off areas and subsequent abuse of track limits
- The rise of pay TV and fewer viewers/followers as a result
- Over-regulation and the penalty system
- The difficulty of overtaking and lack of track action
- Negative press spirals due to political fights via the media
- The lack of noise from engines
- Badly thought-out television camera angles that do not portray the speed and drama of the cars
- The differences in the budgets between the leading and other teams and the resulting gaps in performance
Wurz added: "We are glad that Liberty and their technical research team followed the GPDA's suggestion from more than a year ago, where we wished for a less sensitive airflow concept of aerodynamic-related rules in order to be able to race closer.
"That's just one example and one of many the drivers have in mind. We don't need a seat at the table, because the drivers are in the driving seat anyhow. Besides, I would be surprised if any of the key stakeholders would invite the drivers to the F1 decision-making table.
T"he GPDA demands only that the sport remains the centre of attention and we want to hold everyone in the decision-making process accountable for their actions and decisions.
"All adjustments to the sport should only be done and conducted in the best interest of the sport and not of any one individual. This is what unites the drivers; the sheer will to keep F1 as the pinnacle of motor racing."
Another key factor which Wurz raised was mingling business and politics into the sport, which he feels has damaged the sport already. For the drivers, they take it as a sport and not a show business.
"We consider F1 as sport, not show. A driver rightly so calls himself a sportsman and not showman, because its still about the most natural human aspiration - to go faster, higher, quicker.
"Great sport is what we love to see, if great sport is embedded in a suitably created show and race experience , that would indeed be good. If the sport sucks, everything around the sport itself is only expensive, inauthentic and semi irrelevant. We need on track competition, but not artificially created.
"We can't be naive about the situation which F1 is in, with its complicated governing rules and agreements between various key stake holders. Business decisions and political power fights have damaged the sport enough at vulnerable times over the last decade.
"But the GPDA has repeatedly said that the on track action needs to be better, more closely fought and authentic. As such, we are glad that Liberty and their technical research team follow the GPDA's suggestion from more than a year ago, where we wished for a less sensitive airflow concept of aerodynamic-related rules in order to be able to race closer."
It is unclear as to who all have joined the GPDA. As per Grosjean's interview in May, earlier this year, the Frenchman named Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Lance Stroll, Felipe Massa, Pascal Wehrlein, Sergey Sirotkin, Alfonso Celis, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta as non-members.