Drivers play down strike talk

19/06/2008
NEWS STORY

Although clearly unhappy at the hike in the cost of their superlicences, ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix, drivers have played down talk that they are to go on strike.

Speaking earlier today, Fernando Alonso had suggested that a strike over the British GP weekend was possible.

"It is something we need to look at," the Spaniard told reporters. "I don't know what will be the solution and what will be our effort but if there is a strike in Silverstone then maybe it is one possibility."

However, speaking at the official press conference several other drivers were keen to allay race fans fears that industrial action might be in the air.

"I agree with what Fernando has said about the costs of the super licence which has increased quite a lot compared to last year, I think eight times, or something like that," said Robert Kubica, who will be hard his by the increased 2,000 euro a point levy. "It's quite a lot of money, especially if you are scoring points like Lewis did last year and it's your first year in Formula One. But another point is that experienced drivers who don't have a quick car are not scoring points, so they don't care because they don't have to pay. So I think it will be difficult to get all drivers to have the same idea but we are trying to convince the FIA to reduce the cost.

"As a driver, as a GPDA member, we think that the cost is too much," the Pole continued. "The FIA is saying that it goes to safety and I agree, safety is very important, so in the end, if the standard of safety can improve, we should pay for it, because in the end there is quite a high risk of accident. My case last year and Heikki's (accident) this year in Barcelona show that the FIA is making a great effort and doing a very good job in safety. But then I don't see the point why some drivers have to pay more and some others not. In the end, we are all on the same track driving F1 cars."

"For sure I support them," added Kimi Raikkonen. "Of course it's better if it's not so expensive and it's the same for everybody, but I don't think there's any reason to go on strike and not race. I don't think that's the right way to go but it would be nice if we could reduce it."

"It's the first time that I've heard that," admitted Felipe Massa. "I didn't hear about it before because I was in Brazil, but if it's what Robert says, for sure I support (them) one hundred percent because I don't see a reason for the price to be different for the top drivers and the guys who are in smaller teams. I think the super licence has to be the same for everybody."

Lewis Hamilton, who is not a member of the GPDA, added: "I've always said that they have my support and it's something I agree with as well."

Asked if there was a way, other than strike action, that a compromise might be found, Raikkonen added: "I don't know. I don't see that first of all you can say that we strike but it's never going to happen that all the drivers will strike. Hopefully there is some nice solution that can be found at some point."

When it was pointed out that 'only' ten drivers make over US$10m, leading to suggestions that, compared to other sportsmen, F1 drivers are underpaid, Kubica replied: "I think my opinion is that I'm not doing it for money. Of course, I need something for food and to live but in the end my approach is the same when I was racing in karting. In karting I wasn't paid, so no difference."

"I'm happy with what I'm getting," added Raikkonen. "I'm not doing it for the money either, but for sure, you still put your life at risk and you need to get something for it. For sure, if people didn't think that you should get paid so much, they wouldn't pay, so there's always some reason. But I cannot really answer for the others. As I said, I'm happy where I am, what I'm doing, so that's the main thing."

Max Mosley wrote to Fernando Alonso, Pedro de la Rosa and Mark Webber on June 6 confirming that he would be available to meet them and for them to suggest a time and a place. However, according to FIA sources he has yet to hear back from them.

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Published: 19/06/2008
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