Grand Prix Drivers' Association

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Grand Prix Drivers' Association
AbbreviationGPDA
Formationformed: 11 May 1961
disbanded: (February) 1982
reformed: (13) May 1994
HeadquartersMonaco
Region served
International
Chairman
Alexander Wurz

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) is the trade union of Formula One drivers.

History[edit]

The GPDA was founded in May 1961 and, following an election by members, its inaugural Chairman was Stirling Moss.

Its initial aims of this organisation were to obtain representation on the Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI) of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), 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.[1]

The organisation was disbanded following the events during the 1982 South African Grand Prix due to the sport's changing commercial arrangements, the Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA) adding restrictive clauses to the FIA Super Licence, and the conflict between the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA) and FIA. It was replaced by the Professional Racing Drivers Association (PRDA) at a drivers' meeting in Paris before the planned-then-cancelled Argentine Grand Prix.[2][3]

Niki Lauda, Christian Fittipaldi, Michael Schumacher and Gerhard Berger re-established the GPDA over the 1994 Monaco Grand Prix race weekend, following the events of the preceding San Marino Grand Prix, which culminated with the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, during the Sunday race and Saturday qualifying respectively. Shortly before his own fatal accident, and following the fatal accident of Ratzenberger and the serious accident of Rubens Barrichello during Thursday practice, Senna spent his final morning on the Sunday talking to former teammate and rival Alain Prost to discuss the re-establishment of the GPDA and had offered to take the Chairman role starting from the Monaco Grand Prix.[4]

In 1996, the association was incorporated in the UK as a company limited by guarantee ("Grand Prix Drivers Association Ltd").[5] For the first time, the association had a formal constitution, and permanent offices in Monaco.[6]

Membership and leadership[edit]

Membership of GPDA is not compulsory. For example, during the 2013 Formula One season, only 19 out of 22 active drivers were members (with Kimi Räikkönen, Adrian Sutil and Valtteri Bottas being the exceptions).[7] Joining the GPDA costs £2,000.[8] It was announced on 13 December 2017 that all the drivers had signed up.[9]

GPDA members elect their representatives. Currently, there are four directors: active Formula One drivers Sebastian Vettel and George Russell, legal adviser Anastasia Fowle (the first non-F1 driver past or present to be appointed a GPDA director) and former Formula One driver Alexander Wurz, who serves as chairman.[10][11][12]

Chairman Years of service
United Kingdom Stirling Moss 1961–1963
Sweden Jo Bonnier 1963–1971
United Kingdom Jackie Stewart 1972–1978
South Africa Jody Scheckter 1979–1980
France Didier Pironi 1980–1982
GPDA disbanded 1982–1994
Germany Michael Schumacher 1994–2005
United Kingdom David Coulthard 2005–2006
Germany Ralf Schumacher 2006–2008
Spain Pedro de la Rosa 2008–2010, 2012–2014
Germany Nick Heidfeld 2010
Brazil Rubens Barrichello 2010–2012
Austria Alexander Wurz 2014–present

List of directors[edit]

Note: from 1996[13][14][15][16][17]

Director Years As chairman
Germany Michael Schumacher 1996–2005 1996–2005
Austria Gerhard Berger 1996
United Kingdom Martin Brundle 1996
United Kingdom Damon Hill 1996–1998
United Kingdom David Coulthard 1996–2006 2005–2006
Austria Alexander Wurz 1998–2001
2014–present
2014–present
Italy Jarno Trulli 2001–2006
Australia Mark Webber 2003–2005
2006–2010
Germany Ralf Schumacher 2006–2007 2006–2008
Spain Fernando Alonso 2006–2010
Spain Pedro de la Rosa 2008–2010
2012–2014
2008–2010
2012–2014
Germany Nick Heidfeld 2010 2010
Brazil Felipe Massa 2010–2013
Germany Sebastian Vettel 2010–present
Brazil Rubens Barrichello 2010–2011 2010–2011
United Kingdom Jenson Button 2013–2017
France Romain Grosjean 2017–2020
United Kingdom George Russell 2021–present
United Kingdom Anastasia Fowle 2021–present

Controversies[edit]

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 Motor Sport Council. Significantly, though the majority of drivers signed the statement, Michael Schumacher did not. He claimed that he was not asked to and would not have done so, in any event. 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".[18]

In 2010, upon his return to the sport as a competitor, Michael Schumacher announced that he did not intend to join the GPDA. He subsequently became a "silent member" following discussions with GPDA directors (chiefly, Felipe Massa).[19]

Notable activities[edit]

Thanks to the activism of the GPDA, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps was boycotted in 1969 and the Nürburgring in 1970 and after 1976, over safety concerns.

In 2013, following a series of tyre blowouts at the British Grand Prix, tyre safety became a major issue, with the GPDA announcing through a statement that its member drivers would withdraw from the subsequent German Grand Prix unless remedial action was taken.[20]

In May 2015, the GPDA and Motorsport.com joined forces to allow followers of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship to voice and share their opinions about the sport through an extensive worldwide survey for fans.[21] More than 200,000 respondents participated in the survey.[22]

In July 2015, following the death of Jules Bianchi, the GPDA announced that it felt a responsibility "to never relent in improving safety".[23]

In March 2016, following changes to the qualifying system, the GPDA released an open letter written by Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Alex Wurz on behalf of all drivers saying that the sport's leadership was broken, calling the decision making within Formula One 'obsolete' and 'Ill-structured'. The GPDA believes that the decision making could 'jeopardise F1's future success'.[24]

After the second free practice session of the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the GPDA held a four hour meeting after multiple instances of missile strikes, some as close as 10km from the circuit. Pierre Gasly spoke to media later, telling them that "Everyone was able to give their opinion. We were aligned with our intentions." A later statement from the FIA and Formula 1 assured that racing will go ahead and that the track is safe. GPDA chairman Alex Wurz also issued a statement.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitelock, Mark (2006). 1½-litre Grand Prix Racing. Veloce Publishing Ltd. p. 42. ISBN 1-84584-016-X.
  2. ^ Diepraam, Mattijs. "Poachers turned gamekeepers: how the FOCA became the new FIA". 8W – FORIX. Autosport. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  3. ^ "The Formula One Scene". Motor Sport Magazine. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
  4. ^ Jones, Dylan (22 April 2011). "The last 96 hours of Ayrton Senna". 8wforix. Archived from the original on 31 October 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Company No. 03157191". Companies House.
  6. ^ "The drivers challenge Mosley". GrandPrix.com. Inside F1, Inc. 1996-04-01.
  7. ^ "F1 drivers have risked enough with tyres, says GPDA head de la Rosa". Autosport.com. 2013-05-07. Retrieved 2013-09-12.
  8. ^ "Online: Hamilton stance on union 'wrong'". BBC News. 2008-03-18. Retrieved 2010-10-04.
  9. ^ Benson, Andrew. "Formula 1 drivers' union gets '100%' membership due to concerns over future". BBC Sport. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  10. ^ Noble, Jonathan. "Romain Grosjean replaces Jenson Button as F1 GPDA director". Autosport.com. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  11. ^ Percy, Robert (2021-03-21). "George Russell will replace Romain Grosjean as a director of the GPDA". DriveTribe. Retrieved 2021-03-23.
  12. ^ Collantine, Keith (23 March 2021). "Russell and Fowle become GPDA directors as Grosjean steps back". RaceFans. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  13. ^ "Trulli elected to GPDA". 25 May 2001.
  14. ^ "Alonso elected as GPDA director".
  15. ^ "Barrichello replaces Heidfeld as GPDA director". Reuters. 28 August 2010.
  16. ^ "Romain Grosjean replaces Jenson Button as F1 GPDA director".
  17. ^ "All change at the GPDA".
  18. ^ "GPDA Statement ".
  19. ^ "autosport.com". autosport.com. Retrieved 2010-10-04.
  20. ^ GPDA Statement.
  21. ^ "GPDA and Motorsport.com Launch Global Fan Survey". Motorsport.com.
  22. ^ "Grand Prix Drivers' Association Sets Global Fan Survey Record". Motorsport.com.
  23. ^ "Jules Bianchi death: F1 must 'never relent in improving safety'". BBC Sport. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  24. ^ Benson, Andrew. "GPDA letter: What were Formula 1 drivers trying to achieve?". BBC Sport. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  25. ^ "Drivers agree to race despite missile attack". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2022-03-26.

External links[edit]