F1 drivers threaten strike ahead of British Grand Prix

The threat of a possible drivers’ strike at the forthcoming British Grand Prix hung over the paddock here in Magny-Cours yesterday, as beleaguered FIA president Max Mosley once again found himself with a battle on his hands.

On past performance, though, it is another that he is likely to win.

The problem this time concerns the superlicences, for which the drivers must qualify for prior to competing in Formula One. They have to pay for them, because all of the teams regard this as a fundamental part of their racing equipment. Last year a typical superlicence cost around $2,600 for the season, with an extra cost of $700 per drivers’ world championship point scored in the previous season. Recently, however, the FIA World Council decided to change that since driver salaries, particularly among the midfield runners, had risen to around $8m. They figured they could get away with charging $15,000 for the superlicence and $3100 a point.

Thus Kimi Raikkonen, as the reigning world champion, might have to pay as much as $350,000 for his 2008 superlicence. That might be less than 10 per cent of his salary, but the majority of drivers consider this to be too much, and members of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association are thus considering some sort of action at Silverstone.

Interestingly, Raikkonen did not seem too perturbed about the situation yesterday. “I don’t see this as any reason to strike and not to race,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the right way to go about it.

“A compromise? I don’t know… It’s never gonna happen that we all go on strike, so hopefully some nice solution will be found at some point.”

Canadian GP winner Robert Kubica agreed with fellow outspoken GPDA member Fernando Alonso. “I think that I agree with what Fernando has said,” the Pole declared. “It seems like the cost of the superlicence has gone up eight times what it was last year, so, yeah… It’s quite a lot of money, especially if you are scoring like Lewis did last year in his first year of F1. Some experienced drivers maybe don’t care because they no longer had a quick enough car, so it would be difficult for all of the drivers to have the same idea, but we are trying to convince the FIA to reduce the cost.”

Hamilton, who is not a member of the GPDA, said: “I have always said that they have my support. This is something I agree with as well, so…”

Historically, drivers are rarely united. There was an agreement in Japan in 1976 to stop after two laps in monsoon conditions. Only Emerson Fittipaldi and Niki Lauda did so; James Hunt continued, and went on to snatch the title from Lauda as a result.

The last time the drivers actually struck over superlicence issues was in South Africa in 1982, when attempts were made by Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone to tie the licences to teams, effectively trying to create a transfer system similar to that in football. Led by Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi, the drivers barricaded themselves in a hotel and refused to run until the issue had been resolved. The transfer system proposal was dropped. However, Mosley is all too aware that striking drivers are unlikely to create a sympathetic body among disgruntled fans, especially given their levels of remuneration.

A spokesman for the FIA said yesterday: “On June 6 Max wrote to all of the drivers to confirm that he is quite happy to meet them and to discuss the issue. He has not, as yet, had a reply from any of them.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence