Drivers call for overhaul of F1's 'ill-structured' governance

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Formula One drivers have called on their sport to restructure its governance, arguing that the current rule making process has proved itself to be "obsolete and ill-structured".

An open letter issued by the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) on Wednesday took aim at recent rule changes that the drivers believe lack coherent direction. Instead they have called on F1 to restructure its decision-making process and come up with a clear "master plan" for the future.

"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," read a section of the letter. "We know that among the leaders of the sport - be it the owners, their representatives, the governing body, the teams or other stakeholders - every individual acts with the very best intentions.

"Therefore, the drivers have come to the conclusion that the decision-making process in the sport is obsolete and ill-structured and prevents progress being made.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 letter comes one week after F1's new qualifying system for 2016 came under fire from fans and drivers alike. The drivers had warned against going ahead with the plans before Saturday's debut, but F1's decision-making bodies followed through with the new system regardless. Following confusion in Q1 and an anti-climactic Q3, team bosses agreed the next day to revert to the old system ahead of the the next race in Bahrain.

F1's drivers have no official voting power on new regulations, which are devised by F1's Strategy Group, voted on by the F1 Commission and rubber-stamped by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council. The process has come under fire in recent years because of the self-interest of those involved, but this is the first time the GPDA has openly criticised the sport's governance.

The open letter in full:

Dear Formula One stakeholders, followers and fans,

The Grand Prix drivers would like to state our following position: We drivers love our sport! Since childhood, we dreamed of racing the fastest race cars from the top teams on the coolest tracks against the best drivers in the world. We seek competition and love F1 almost unconditionally, which makes us most probably the people with the purest interest for Formula One, beside our fans.

Formula One is currently challenged by a difficult global economic environment, a swift change in fan and consumer behaviour, and a decisive shift in the TV and media landscape. This makes it fundamental that the sport's leaders make smart and well considered adjustments.

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. We know that among the leaders of the sport - be it the owners, their representatives, the governing body, the teams or other stakeholders - every individual acts with the very best intentions.

Therefore, 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.

We need to ensure that F1 remains a sport, a closely-fought competition between the best drivers in extraordinary machines on the coolest race tracks. F1 should be home only to the best teams, drivers and circuits, with partners and suppliers fit for such an elite championship.

Formula One has undoubtedly established itself as the pinnacle of motorsport and as such one of the most viewed and popular sports around the world. We drivers stand united, offer our help and support for F1 to keep it as such, and further to make it fit and exciting for many years and generations to come.

It is important to state that this open letter is intended in the best interests of all and should not be seen as blind and disrespectful attack. Thank you for your attention and granting us the liberty to put our thoughts into words.

Best regards, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Alex Wurz, on behalf of the Grand Prix Drivers