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GP Week : Issue 179
Monaco Singapore Abu Dhabi Austin 24/25/26 May 21 / 22 September 1 / 3 November 15/16/17 November AMBER LOUNGE THE ULTIMATE VIP GRAND PRIX EXPERIENCE 2013 CELEBRATING 10 YEARS VIP Parties Fashion Shows Dining Hospitality Live Acts BlackBook-210x282.indd 1 01/03/2013 17:52 The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA), the drivers’ trade union that traces its roots back to 1961, elected McLaren driver and 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button to its board at a meeting over the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend. Button takes over as director on the organisation’s three-member board from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and joins Sebastian Vettel as one of two world champions serving as directors of the body. Ferrari development driver Pedro de la Rosa, a long time GPDA stalwart, will continue to head the GPDA as chairman. “It’s good for the GPDA as we have two world champions as directors now,” de la Rosa was quoted as saying by Autosport. The issue of driver fines was also brought up at the GPDA meeting that saw Button’s election to the board. Drivers are understood have been seeking clarity on fines imposed over the Australian Grand Prix weekend after they had agreed to a hike in superlicence fees in exchange for an end to FIA-imposed fines for offences including pitlane speeding and failure to attend FIA press conferences. The drivers agreed to leave resolution of the issue in the FIA’s hands. The GPDA is a drivers’ trade union primarily concerned with promoting and improving driver safety. The body also represents drivers in meetings with the FIA and weighs in on other driver-related issues. First formed in 1961 with British motor-racing legend Sir Stirling Moss as its chairman it has, at different times in its history, either vociferously upheld driver rights or lain dormant for years at a time. The association gave drivers a platform from which to express their concerns and they first used this collective power to boycott the old Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium in 1969 and the daunting Nurburgring Nordschleife in 1970. At the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, safety concerns over the trackside barriers prompted GPDA members to plan a boycott of the race. But despite the gentleman’s agreement, only McLaren driver and defending world champion Emerson Fittipaldi returned to the pits and ended his race after completing the agreed upon three laps. The GPDA famously flexed its muscles at the 1982 South African Grand Prix, the first race of the season, with drivers going on strike over a dispute that concentrated on a number of clauses contained within what were then new forms for the acquisition of their superlicences. Despite the body’s assertive start, the organization fizzled out that year and was disbanded only to be reformed more than a decade later at the 1994 Imola Grand Prix after the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and triple world champion Ayrton Senna in San Marino. Since that time, the GPDA has returned to its driver-safety origins, although the body now takes a more holistic view of the wide range of issues that affect grand prix racers at the highest level, from fines and finances to sporting regulations and driver conduct. F1 >>> NEWS Button elected to board of F1 drivers’ trade union 9 GPWEEK.com // 9 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: