GPDA calls for reform of 'ill-structured' Formula 1

Formula 1's drivers have called for an overhaul of the sport's 'obsolete' and 'ill-structured' rule-making process, amid frustrations about the direction grand prix racing is heading in.

In the wake of a number of remarks from leading figures in recent weeks – including Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton – suggesting that F1 is taking a wrong path, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) published an open letter on Wednesday making clear that all drivers were unhappy.

Addressing it to F1's stakeholders, followers and fans, the GPDA chief figures, directors Jenson Button, Vettel and chairman Alexander Wurz said that the time had come for action to be taken and a new governance structure put in place.

"The drivers have come to the conclusion that the decision-making process in the sport is obsolete and ill-structured and prevents progress being made," stated the letter.

"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 [a] plan should reflect the principles and core values of Formula 1."

A masterplan

The drivers believe that F1 should be focusing more on a well thought-out process to keep F1 at the pinnacle of world sport, rather than being held hostage to governance issues and minor rule tweaking.

"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," added the letter.

"This makes it fundamental that the sport's leaders make smart and well considered adjustments."

A better future

The GPDA has grown more active under chairman Wurz in pushing for positive change for the sport.

Wurz was instrumental in putting together last year the F1 Global Fan Survey, hosted by Motorsport.com, and has worked hard in liaising with the FIA over safety and other rules issues.

In the letter, the GPDA emphasised that its stance was not a simple attack on F1 chiefs for the sake of it, but had been fuelled by a desire to make grand prix racing better in the future.

"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," added the letter.

"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."

The damage that F1's governance structure is was thrust in to the spotlight at the Australian Grand Prix when the sport was forced to make an embarrassing U-turn over plans to introduce elimination qualifying.

Full GPDA statement

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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