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GPDA vow to ensure F1 remains a "sport" in face of Liberty Media changes

Written by  Dec 13, 2017

The Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) has vowed to ensure the integrity of Formula 1 as a sport rather than a show in the face of change under new owners Liberty Media.

2018 will mark the first time that all 20 drivers on the grid will be part of what is known as the driver's union which is headed up by former Benetton driver and McLaren tester Alex Wurz as Chairman with the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean acting as Directors.

Issuing the warning to CEO Chase Carey and other F1 bosses, Wurz hailed the importance of being able to speak for each driver on the grid ahead of what he believes will be tough times politically in the sport.

"The GPDA now has 100 percent membership for the first time in recent memory and maybe history," the Austrian began in a statement. "So it was a very good year.

F1 is entering a period of evolution, change and perhaps even a degree of turmoil. All the drivers recognise that they must be united and represented, in order to face that challenge and prevent any politics or fights for power from ultimately compromising on-track performance.

"The drivers believe unity is fundamental to the sport's success."

The GPDA has been more willing to speak out against what it sees as the problems in F1 today, with the Association backing the decision by the FIA to introduce the controversial Halo on safety grounds despite known split opinions among the drivers.

Now, with arguments already brewing over future engine rules and a fight over changes to the financial structure for teams likely as the future of F1 post-2020 is shaped, Wurz insists the drivers will only have one focus.

"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," he said.

"All adjustments to the sport should only be done and conducted in the best interest of the sport and not of any one individual and this is what unites the drivers, this sheer will to keep F1 as the pinnacle of motor racing.

"We consider F1 as sport, not show. A driver rightly so calls himself a sportsman and not showman because it's still about the most natural human aspiration - to go faster, higher, quicker.

"Great sport is what we love to see if great sport is embedded in a suitably created show and race experience that would indeed be good."

Wurz was then clear when he set out what it is the GPDA want to see F1 become, he also welcomed the approach by Managing Director of Motorsport Ross Brawn which is more in line with their vision.

"If the sport sucks, everything around the sport itself is only expensive, inauthentic and semi-irrelevant. We need on track competition but not artificially created," he claimed, referring to gimmicks like DRS.

"We can't be naive about the situation which F1 is in, with its complicated governing rules and agreements between various key stakeholders. Business decisions and political power fights have damaged the sport enough at vulnerable times over the last decade.

"But the GPDA has repeatedly said that the on-track action needs to be better, more closely fought and authentic. As such, we are glad that Liberty and their technical research team follow 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."

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