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Stewart urges Hamilton to join GPDA

NEWS STORY
18/03/2008

Three-time World Champion, and former F1 team boss, Jackie Stewart, has made an emotional plea to World Championship leader, Lewis Hamilton, urging him to join the F1 drivers' union, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA).

Hamilton has said that he doesn't feel he currently has the time to contribute to the GPDA, which has been representing the interests of F1 drivers, mainly with regards safety issues, since 1961. The organization was subsequently 'disbanded' in 1982 at the time of the FISA/FOCA war, but was revived days after Ayrton Senna's fatal crash at Imola in 1994.

"I'm surprised and disappointed that Lewis has not yet joined the GPDA," said Stewart, according to the Daily Telegraph. "The one thing you have to have among the competitors is good communication. Apart from that you are treated as a group on issues. In my day that was a very important element of getting things done. The GPDA did an immense amount of good. It is wrong and complacent of Lewis not to be involved.

"You have to prioritise your time," he continued, clearly referring to Hamilton's excuse that he doesn't currently have the time. "He might have to do commercial appearances for Hugo Boss or whoever, but nobody did more of that than I did. That's why I got mononucleosis, and a duodenal ulcer.

"The drivers are the ones out there doing it," said the Scot. "When you are out there and somebody tells you that, for example, the barriers at Monza do not need to be further from the chicane than they are now, they don't understand that an interlocking wheel suddenly launches a car in the air and you come down upside down on the top of the barrier.

"That's how Francois Cevert (his Tyrrell teammate) was killed. Francois was cut in half. If you have ever seen that you want the barrier further back. That is why the GPDA is important and why Lewis should be in it. I have the highest respect for Lewis. I think he is the best thing since sliced bread but he is inexperienced.

"Lewis is such a valuable asset to the sport. The media talks to him more than anyone else. One of the reasons I got so much done in terms of safety was because I was 'the guy' at that time."

"Somebody is going to get killed," warned the Scot, who became a vigorous safety campaigner following his accident at Spa in 1966. "It has been 13 years and 11 months since the death of Ayrton Senna. It is like an air crash. You can't go without something going wrong somewhere. And somebody will die. The moment somebody dies there is a new awakening. It is going to be a big shock to this fraternity.

"These guys don't know how to deal with a death," he added. "They have never seen it. They have never been up close. They have never been close to a body when it is still in the car, never had to identify a body, never had to pack that person's clothes because the wife or the girlfriend can't face it. I pray to God they never do have to learn that.

"But the law of averages says that when you are doing 200mph, millimetres apart with mechanical failure or human error, you are going to have an accident. Nowadays that's a plane crash. So far we have been incredibly lucky. We are on the slate to have a big shunt."

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