Motorsport's governing body has revealed that Formula One drivers will be required to pay less for the right to perform at the highest level from next season, removing one potential flashpoint that threatened the undermine the impending 2009 campaign.
Substantial rises in the price of the mandatory 'superlicence' over the past two seasons created uproar amongst the F1 fraternity, with another increase - albeit in line with inflation - for 2009 prompting the Grand Prix Drivers' Association to tell its member not
to sign for their licences this season. Last year's increase saw the cost of a license from €1690 ($2165) to €10,000, while each point scored by a driver required an additional €2000 - up from €447 in 2007.
The latest raise - which also flew in the face of the FIA's attempts to slash the cost of competing in F1 - required reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton to pay $270,000 for the privilege of defending his title, leading to the GPDA accusing the FIA of using licence revenues as a means of topping up its own budget. The suggestion that drivers do not sign for their licences could have meant a very different field appearing on the grid in Melbourne this weekend, but that is now not likely to happen.
Although the row still lingers over this year's increases, the situation is likely to ease somewhat following confirmation that, following a meeting between the GPDA and FIA, superlicences will cost less from 2010. The governing body has reported a 'positive meeting' with GPDA representatives, leading to a revised proposal being put together for next season, although this year's charges will increase in line with inflation as planned.
"Following a very positive meeting between FIA president Max Mosley and representatives of the Grand Prix Drivers Association [GPDA], a proposal will be made to the World Motor Sport Council to revise superlicence fees for drivers in the 2010 championship," an official statement from the governing body confirmed, "A reduced fee would reflect the major cost reductions that will be brought into the sport for next season."
The brief statement also revealed that 'a number of other issues were discussed and the FIA has agreed to meet representatives of the GPDA on a regular basis to maintain what promises to be a constructive dialogue'.