Formula One drivers attack powerbrokers over decision-making process

23 Mar 2016 18:23

Formula One drivers have launched a stinging attack on the sport's powerbrokers by calling for an overhaul to the "obsolete" and "ill-structured" decision-making process which they feel is harming grand prix racing.

The open letter, almost unprecedented in its nature, is signed off by Britain's Jenson Button and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and was published on behalf of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA).

A number of drivers, notably world champion Lewis Hamilton, have recently spoken out against the direction Formula One is heading in. And the 463-word letter comes only days after red-faced bosses agreed to ditch the sport's elimination-style qualifying format which made its disastrous debut at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

"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 read.

"The drivers have come to the conclusion that the decision-making process in the sport is obsolete and ill-structured and prevents progress being made.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

The GPDA - which represents the majority of drivers on the grid - insist the letter is not a direct attack on the sport.

But it is unlikely to sit well with Formula One's hierarchy, already embarrassed by the failed qualifying format which resulted in millions of fans staring at an empty track. They have subsequently agreed to defer back to last year's format for the next race in Bahrain.

Meanwhile, plans to revolutionise the sport next season have hit the skids with teams struggling to agree on the right direction for the sport.

Hamilton, now in his 10th season, has been among the leading drivers critical of changes to the sport's rulebook. Race director Charlie Whiting, however, took aim at the Briton in Melbourne for failing to attend key driver meetings.

But speaking after the Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton said: "It is interesting that recently Charlie has hit out at me and it is right that he has called some meetings, but I didn't go as at the time I was really just focussed on doing my work with my engineers.

"But also it is very rare that anything in our conversations gets taken notice of so there is no need for me to be there.

"At the top end there are probably way too many people making decisions who don't have an understanding of the car. There needs to be perhaps less people making the decisions and hopefully making the right ones.

"I love this sport, I love racing. Ultimately I don't know all the changes that should be made, but whatever changes have been made it hasn't made the spectacle better, it hasn't made the racing better from a driver's perspective."