FIA President Max Mosley has issued a stinging rebuke to the objections laid out by the Grand Prix Drivers' Association regarding the new hike in super-licence fees in Formula 1 in 2009 – stating that if they don't want to cough up, then they can go and race elsewhere.
The GPDA has advised its members not to sign up for their mandatory licences for the season ahead until talks have been held with the sport's governing body, in the wake of a dispute over the significant increase in price this year – from €1,690 ($2,165) to €10,000, with each point scored coming at a premium of an additional €2,000, up from €447 in 2007.
In a statement issued last week, the GPDA described the rise as 'unreasonable' and 'inherently unfair', with claims the FIA is merely using the drivers as a source of revenue by which to make up shortfalls in its budget in times of such great economic difficulty – even if three drivers are now understood to have conceded and signed up [see separate story – click here
Should there be no change in the current super-licence cost, McLaren-Mercedes' defending F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton faces having to pay some $270,000 (£189,980) simply to be able to take to the starting grid this year.
Mosley, though, has pointed to the millions and tens of millions earned by the sport's protagonists, and in a letter to the GPDA and the top flight's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone, he explained that the income from licence fees had in the past contributed towards developments that have 'saved the lives of many super-licence holders'.
“Apart from Formula 1, there are a large number of series and championships where a professional racing driver can earn a good, sometimes very good, living,” the 68-year-old wrote in a letter seen by international news agency Reuters
“The costs of such licences are fixed by the relevant ASN (national sporting authority), but are usually modest. A driver who does not want, or even cannot afford to pay for, a Formula 1 super-licence thus has many alternatives.
“The drivers who compete in Formula 1 are, in general, by far the highest-paid motorsport competitors. It seems reasonable they should make a tax-deductible contribution to the safety and running of the sport from which they benefit so greatly.
“If it helps I can confirm increases will be limited to inflation for the foreseeable future. I do hope you will all see the fairness of our position and decide to continue to drive in the Formula One World Championship.”