David Coulthard has been talking about the unreasonable attitude of the FIA towards F1 drivers’ opinions, although he specifically identifies Max Mosley as the main culprit. He refers to the Monza circuit where the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers Association) expressed their concerns over safety at the track.
“Instead of real answers we got a letter from Max saying we were speaking out of turn and that the terms of our superlicenses include a clause that says we aren’t allowed to speak out of turn or against the governing body, etc,” he said.
As I pointed out in my post, Formula One Shows the Way, the FIA seem to be deliberately ignoring any input from the drivers and have even referred to them as “self-appointed experts”. I cannot think of any other sport that is governed in as high-handed a manner as the FIA run F1.
Years ago, in the midst of the fuss over whether rugby should become a professional sport, I recall the then England rugby captain, Will Carling, getting into trouble for referring to the sport’s governing body as a bunch of old farts. But that is slightly different – as an old fart myself, I have no objection to others pointing out the fact but I do understand that some might feel their dignity deflated by such a term. The GPDA have hurled no insults and merely want their views to be known. When the FIA react by making it a part of the regulations that the drivers have no say in safety matters, I have to think that something is wrong.
Either the “old farts” running F1 have become so obsessed with their own importance that they cannot bear to hear any disagreement with their decisions or there is much more at stake than either we or the drivers understand. And, knowing how the FIA decide these things, I would have to guess that the second option means money. It might be interesting to find out just who will be making the wonderful new barriers touted by the FIA as such a significant breakthrough in safety.
So I sympathize with Coulthard’s mystification at the FIA’s attitude. As he says, it seems to go directly against all their claims to openness:
“The FIA recently commissioned a survey to find out what F1 fans think of the sport – and rightly so.
“I’m all for the fans expressing their views; I’m all for everyone involved in the sport expressing their views; why, then, must we drivers not express ours?”
But not that anything will be done, of course. Just as Will Carling was forced to eat humble pie all those years ago, so will David and the rest of the drivers be told to “Shut up and prepare for blast off.”