Liberty Media’s plans to modernise Formula 1 have taken a turn for the worse after it emerged that all of next season’s drivers joined the union for the first time in its history due to their concerns about the future of the sport.
All of those signed up for the 2018 calendar have joined the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association for what chairman Alexander Wurz believes is “maybe the first time in history” due to the changing state of F1 since Liberty Media took over.
Former F1 driver Wurz did stress that recent changes have improved the spectacle of sport such as the introduction of new wider designs at the start of this year, but admitted that there are concerns among the drivers that F1 is heading for a period of “turmoil”, leading to fears that off-track distractions could affect the final product on the track.
F1 2018 grid
“F1 is entering a period of evolution, change and perhaps even a degree of turmoil,” Wurz said. “They recognise they must be united and represented to face that challenge.”
Both reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen have decided against joining the GPDA in the past, but both have signed up for the 2018 to join the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean, who have been vocal leaders in the union in recent years.
The GPDA issued a strong statement last year to express their concerns with the direction that F1 was heading in, and with contract talks between Formula 1 and the 10 teams due over a new agreement from 2020 progressing, the current off-season will be hugely important for how the sport looks in three years’ time.
“We are glad that Liberty and their technical research team followed the GPDA’s suggestion from more than a year ago, where we wished for a less sensitive airflow concept of aerodynamic-related rules in order to be able to race closer. That’s just one example and one of many the drivers have in mind,” Wurz said.
“We don’t need a seat at the table, because the drivers are in the driving seat anyhow. Besides, I would be surprised if any of the key stakeholders would invite the drivers to the F1 decision-making table.
“The GPDA demands only that the sport remains the centre of attention and we want to hold everyone in the decision-making process accountable for their actions and decisions.
“All adjustments to the sport should only be done and conducted in the best interest of the sport and not of any one individual. This is what unites the drivers; the sheer will to keep F1 as the pinnacle of motor racing.”