Grand Prix Drivers' Association
|Formation||formed: 11 May 1961
reformed: (13) May 1994
| Pedro de la Rosa
The GPDA was founded in 1961 and was active during the 1960s and 1970s. Then, as now, the GPDA's primary objective was to improve and maintain safety standards. This led to boycotts of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in 1969 and the Nürburgring in 1970 and after 1976.
On the GPDA's formation in May 1961, Stirling Moss was elected chairman. Its initial aims were to obtain representation on the Commission Sportive Internationale de la FIA (CSI), which at the time was motorsport's governing body in order to improve safety standards and provisions for both drivers and spectators. After Moss retired from the sport in 1963, Jo Bonnier succeeded him.
The GPDA was reformed over the weekend of the 1994 Monaco Grand Prix by Niki Lauda and Gerhard Berger, following the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, as well as the serious accident of Rubens Barrichello, at the San Marino Grand Prix two weeks earlier (the drivers had proposed its reformation in the drivers' briefing on the morning of the race in San Marino, with Senna being appointed one of its directors just hours before his death). Michael Schumacher was appointed Chairman in 1994, and remained chairman up until 2005.
In 1996, the association was incorporated in the UK as a company limited by guarantee as Grand Prix Drivers Association Ltd. For the first time, the association had a formal constitution, and permanent offices in Monaco.
Membership and leadership
Membership of GPDA is not compulsory. Of the 22 drivers who competed in the 2013 Formula One season, 19 were members, with Kimi Räikkönen, Adrian Sutil and Valtteri Bottas the exceptions. Joining the GPDA costs £2,000.
In 2010 a major shuffle took place in the GPDA following the return of Michael Schumacher and Pedro de la Rosa stepping down as president because he was back racing with Sauber. Nick Heidfeld was voted as the replacement of Pedro de la Rosa for 2010. Also Michael Schumacher announced that he did not intend to join the GPDA on his return but changed his mind by becoming a silent member. He was convinced to do this by having negotiations with the GPDA directors, mainly Felipe Massa.
The members vote to decide their leaders. Currently there are three directors of the GPDA, one of whom is the chairman. Jenson Button is the current chairman.
|Chairman||Years as chairman|
|Pedro de la Rosa||2008–2010, 2012–2014|
|This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (March 2013)|
During the 2005 season the GPDA became increasingly involved in the politics (and controversy) of Formula One.
Following the United States Grand Prix the GPDA issued a statement supporting the case of the Michelin teams in the FIA World Motorsport Council. Significantly, though the majority of drivers signed the statement, Michael Schumacher did not. He claimed that he was not asked to, but would not have done so anyway. The statement claimed that the FIA's proposed solutions to the problems experienced by the Michelin teams were unworkable. Schumacher claimed the problems at Indianapolis were technical rather than a safety issue.
A meeting between the GPDA and FIA president Max Mosley, scheduled for the British Grand Prix, was cancelled by Mosley because of statements made by David Coulthard. Mosley claimed Coulthard's statements to the media were a "distortion" of the purpose of the meeting and accused him of stirring up dissent. In retaliation the GPDA released a letter that had been sent to Mosley accusing him of jeopardising the GPDA's drive for improved safety:
- “We were also concerned to learn that during the course of [a telephone conversation with Coulthard], you suggested the FIA might withdraw support for the ongoing safety initiatives of the GPDA... The GPDA believes that safety issues are of the highest importance and are disappointed not to receive the full support of the FIA president in this matter".
Following a series of tyre blowouts in the 2013 British Grand Prix, safety of the tyres became a big issue, with the GPDA threatening to boycott the consequent German Grand Prix if no action was to taken regarding the safety of the tyres. "If similar problems manifest themselves at the German GP, we shall immediately withdraw." said a statement.
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- GPDA Statement.