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Drivers publish open letter calling for changes to rule making process

NEWS STORY
23/03/2016

In an unprecedented move, F1 drivers have publicly called for an overhaul of F1's "obsolete" and "ill-structured" rule-making process.

In an open letter - released to the public via social media - members of the drivers' union, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), called on the sport's powers-that-be to take action, fearing that F1 is heading in the wrong direction.

The drivers are keen to make clear that their move is not driven by a desire to rock the boat or for nefarious reasons, but rather their fear that the sport they love is losing its way.

The move comes at a time the sport, already haemorrhaging fans and sponsors, has been made to look foolish with the powers-that-be back-tracking on a number of moves, not least the introduction of a new qualifying format that looks set to be dropped after just one outing.

How the letter will be received remains to be seen with the sport taking a dim view on drivers speaking their minds. Last year, in the wake of criticism of Pirelli's tyres, following a number of incidents at Spa, drivers were told not to publicly criticise the sport.

In a further move, which may well have proved a final straw for the drivers, last week the FIA''s Race Director and Safety Delegate, Charlie Whiting, was dismissive of claims that the drivers should have more say, especially in terms of rule-making, something Pitpass has argued for some time.

"I think they get a lot of say," insisted Whiting. "We have, as you know, technical and sporting working group meetings, to which a driver is always invited. The take-up is very low, but they are invited and they get the agendas and the minutes of the meetings. There is a seat on the FIA Circuits Commission for a Formula One driver but again attendance is not as high as one might like.

"They get an opportunity every race weekend to sit, in this room for example, later this evening to discuss whatever they want to. We don't just talk about what's happened on the track today, they talk about all sorts of things. That's another perfect opportunity to discuss anything they wish. I'm always happy to talk to them. We had a meeting in Barcelona, as you know, quite a few drivers actually turned up for it, which was nice. Lewis (Hamilton) was invited but he didn't come."

Asked if the sport needs more involvement from the drivers, he replied: "I don't think it needs more, because they've got adequate. They've got many, many chances to talk about the rules with us. I honestly don't see how they could have much more. And of course, even at Formula One Commission level, there's nothing to stop a driver asking their team principal to put their point across, because all the teams are on that commission. But by that time they have had lots of chances to give their view."

The letter reads as follows:

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.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by wmcot54, 24/03/2016 4:36

"Looks like we'll have a lot of driver talent available to the WEC, Indycar, DTM and many other series very shortly."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Stitch431, 23/03/2016 22:39

"It is a clear cry for help. A cry that has been voiced for quite some time by us fans already. In my opinion there were some good plans on the table: more agressive looking cars, more mechanical grip, less aerodynamic, Get rid of DRS and allow the ground effect thus enabling drivers to slipstreaming at ovetaking. If this can be done with a good sound it would be great. If this can be arranged for with green techniques, great. Also it should be taken into consideration that motor specs should be within something like 2% of the rest, then it ensures that no team will become too dominant and good racing is guaranteed. These ideas were on the table but vetoed out of the way by some guys who were afraid to lose their dominance perhaps? Instead of these sound propositions all of a sudden you read about a halo (not bad in itself if it does the job, although there are doubts if it is safe at a big crash like Alonso's), or a last minute change to the qualifying format only weeks before the start of the season. It just seems to me these things happen to cover up that the "leaders" are failing to make decisions, because there is always one blocking a good idea. This system was, and regrettingly still is, bad news for an exciting and stable F1. I believe it is great that the drivers now stand up to make it clear that this cannot go on any longer. Time for a new Concorde agreement. Time also for Bernie to consider a good replacement for himself (Wurz would be a good guy for the job in my opinion), and time for the teams to see that it is not a healthy situation for a sport when participants can make/change the rules. Let's hope this will be tackled and changed once and for all! "

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3. Posted by jo6pac, 23/03/2016 20:46

"F-1 management will have another great idea like the last to keep drive away fans. They just came up with another format for qualifying. It's a bad as it gets. Thanks to the drivers for showing interest in F-1 because no one else is unless there is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ involved. Greed kill everything it touches.

Thanks to PitPass for passing along the letter."

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4. Posted by bfairey, 23/03/2016 18:35

"Does this mean that Whiting and Bernie are out??"

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5. Posted by Ro, 23/03/2016 17:26

"Wouldnt surprise me if another racing series is on its way to replace F1 ...."

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6. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 23/03/2016 15:19

"Will this have any influence, I think not."

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