The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) has issued a strongly worded letter to urge Formula One bosses to overhaul the current governance of the sport, labeling it “ill-structured” and “obsolete”.
The statement comes in the wake of growing discontent and frustration from the drivers, which was evident at the Australian Grand Prix weekend when the new hastily devised elimination-style qualifying format flopped.
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton said that F1’s decision-making process involved too many parties, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel used the qualifying farce to point out that drivers’ opinions and warnings had not been heard.
In pre-season testing, it was McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso who expressed his sadness at the current state of F1, complaining about complicated regulations and cars that were no longer fun to drive.
Fearing that the sport is on a wrong path, GPDA directors Jenson Button and Vettel, as well as chairman Alexander Wurz have decided to take action by releasing on Wednesday an open letter on behalf of all grand prix drivers. In this statement are gathered not only their grievances but also their hopes of a better future for F1. The full letter reads:
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Therefore, the drivers have come to the conclusion that the decision-making process in the sport is obsolete and ill -structured and prevents progress being made.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