Do F1 drivers need a say in rule making?
By Mat Coch
Thursday 9th November, 2023 - 1:58pm
There is an argument to be made that F1 drivers deserve representation when it comes to decision-making within the sport.
Officially, the FIA lays out the rules to which F1 operates, with the teams ensuring they meet them and Formula 1 (the business) working to commercialise it all.
In reality, the governance is far more complicated, with advisory boards and committees in focused areas working to make informed decisions, which are approved by the FIA through its World Motor Sport Council.
But while the FIA, F1 (the business) and the teams all have a voice in that conversation, there is no formal means for the drivers to have any input.
Informally, there are channels they can use, such as passing feedback to their teams or to the race director during the regular catch-ups, but the drivers as a collective have no input.
That is despite having a body to represent their interests, the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.
The GPDA’s mandate is to champion the drivers’ interests but it is largely ceremonial with no formal power.
“I think it would be nicer if the GPDA could have a little bit more influence because GPDA is not just a single driver,” said Sergio Perez.
“It’s the board, it’s the majority of all of us that are living the sport, and yeah, it would be nice to see in the near future that they will consider more the opinion of the GPDA as an association.”
There have been a handful of instances of late where drivers arguably should have had a say. The Qatar heat is an obvious one where extreme and unpredicted conditions made for a gruelling race.
Even more recently, they were voiceless in the changes made to pit exit rules in Sao Paulo, which world champion-elect Max Verstappen termed “extremely dangerous”.
In Miami, drivers were displeased with the pre-race hype, which most felt was a distraction and left them exposed to the Florida heat just moments before the race start.
“I think it just sometimes has too many rules that they have to take into account and too many politics as well to make a change or decision,” Verstappen said of the way the sport currently operates.
“Of course, I would like to, as the GPDA, to have a say. I would like to be the owner of F1 if I could, but that’s not the real world.
“But, yeah, we keep expressing our concerns, but also what has been done correctly.
“We keep that dialogue, let’s say, open; we try to always make them listen, and we listen as well, we tried to communicate, and we’ll see what comes out of it in the coming years.”
The question is whether, as the sport continues to grow, it is appropriate for the drivers to have a formal voice in the conversation when it comes to formulating the regulations.
Whether that translates into them getting their way more often is unlikely, but it would offer a more holistic view and a perspective from those charged with putting on the show that the sport doesn’t currently have.