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Drivers agree that they should have a say in the sport's direction

NEWS STORY
03/07/2019

For too long, drivers - with the odd exception - have appeared to have been gagged when asked about the direction the sport is taking, nodding in agreement with every rule change and blindly following in the tracks laid by the powers that be.

In recent times however, a number of drivers, most notably Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel have spoken out, criticising various aspects of the sport and, in some cases, claiming that it is not the sport they first fell in love with.

In recent months Hamilton, in particular, has been very vocal, and recently, along with Alex Wurz, the chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean attended a meeting with the FIA, Pirelli and team bosses to discuss the 2019 tyres.

F1 MD, Ross Brawn has said he welcomes Hamilton's involvement and called on other drivers to come forward with their suggestions, a move that has been widely welcomed.

"In the GPDA we do talk about it already," said Max Verstappen, "but it's not necessary that all 20 drivers go in there, because at the end of the day, if we all share the same ideas, maybe we only need two or three to be there. But, like Ross said with Lewis, if he can represent all 20 drivers together maybe with two other drivers together then it's a good thing because at the end of the day we are driving the cars, so we actually really feel what's going on while racing.

"The engineers, of course, they design everything but they don't get to feel what we feel while driving," he added.

"We are in the cars so I think we have a pretty strong opinion on what to do," added Charles Leclerc, "and I think we have a few points that we are all agreed on which will be heard and I think that's the point of us being there and I think it's a good thing."

"We have a couple of points in the GPDA that we all agree - all drivers," said Sergio Perez, " and I think we are the ones who can give the best feedback because we are the ones racing the cars.

"It would be good if at least a couple of those points - they are not many - but if they can listen to us a bit more that would be great, to make the sport better," he added.

Asked what he feels needs to be changed, Verstappen was in no doubt, especially when it comes to the thorny subject of boring, processional races, as in France.

"Maybe if we are only going one or two seconds slower we can at least follow each other a bit closer, that would be great," he said, "but I think that's also not just purely car related, because I think also the tyres, if you are really close to someone for two or three laps, they overheat too much and you start sliding too much.

"Most of the time you just back out because you know that if you stay there you have to pit earlier and stuff. So, then it compromises your whole race.

"So, it's a combination of both the car where we need to find a different way of creating the downforce - but then running closer to each other. And then the tyres. I think we can do a better job on that.

"Then, still the differences between the engines are too big, so if you also close that up a little bit by making it not that complex. I mean, I understand we have to stay with hybrid engines but I think it can be done in a better way."

However, at a time some are saying the sport is in crisis, Perez doesn't agree.

"I wouldn't say the sport is in crisis but it's certainly losing interest from a lot of people," said the Mexican. "You have some races that are incredibly boring at the front of field but when you look at the midfield, I mean when you look at the last race, what happened at the midfield until the last lap, they decided who won the battle, so I think that was incredible.

"I think the problem is more with the top teams, the difference that there is," he added. "I think the whole pack has to be a lot closer together, give equal opportunity to everyone and have more teams capable of winning.

"The way you do that is by making the rules a bit more complex and not so much gap between teams. That will be the best way to create interesting races."

"Formula One has always been like this," added Verstappen, "because before this Red Bull was dominating the sport... before that you had Ferrari dominating. Before that, what was it? You got Williams, before that it was McLaren again.

"You always have those years of domination unfortunately. I don't agree with it but it's like it is, there's always one team which gets the rules... understands the rules better than others and does a better job so it's up to us, now, I guess, to find a way where not every team starts speaking for their own advantage, because at the end of the day, even with the new rules coming at the moment, everybody is just speaking for their own advantage. Maybe it's just better to leave out all the teams from the discussions and just say these are the rules and you deal with it."

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