F1 governance “obsolete” say drivers

It’s rare that Formula 1 drivers stick their head above the parapet to criticise the sport they love and make a handsome living from. But Grand Prix Drivers’ Association directors Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettal and Alex Wurz have done just that in an open letter issued on behalf of the whole grid, calling on F1’s bosses to completely restructure its governance.

The letter comes following a difficult period for F1. An unwanted and unneeded new elimination-style qualifying format was tried at last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix and immediately dropped. Having missed several deadlines already, big changes to the technical rules for 2017 have yet to be agreed. And it’s looking likely that the Italian and German Grand Prix will be dropped next year because the organisors can’t afford the crippling hosting fees.

“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,” the letter reads.

It goes on: “The drivers have come to the conclusion that the decision-making process in the sport is obsolete and ill-structured and prevents progress being made.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.”

The letter offers no solutions, but calls on the owners and stakeholders of F1 “to consider restructuring its own governance” and “make smart and well considered adjustments” in response to changes in the global economy and media landscape.

According to the drivers, all decisions should be based on a “clear master plan” that reflects the “principles and core values” of F1. But most of all, they want the racing to remain at the heart of F1. “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.”

Some will inevitably question the drivers’ motivation, but they qualify that by noting they “love F1 almost unconditionally, which makes us most probably the people with the purest interest for Formula 1, besides our fans.”

As yet, F1’s rulers haven’t responded to the letter, though it’s unlikely any immediate action would result from it anyway. But this is still the clearest mapping of the problems within F1 we’ve seen emerge from the paddock.

You can read the full letter on the GPDA Twitter account.

By Only Motors

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