It is far from certain that having returned to F1 in 2010, record-breaking multiple world champion Michael Schumacher will similarly return to the Grand Prix Drivers' Association – with suggestions that the German's uneasy relationship with current GPDA chairman Pedro de la Rosa could convince him otherwise.
Schumacher played a pivotal role in the revival of the GPDA in the wake of title rival Ayrton Senna's tragic death in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, with the drivers' union acting as a body through which to discuss safety measures and advances in the top flight – but the Mercedes Grand Prix star is one of only a few drivers on the 2010 grid who is not currently a member.
This, it has been mooted, is the product of strained relations with fellow F1 returnee Pedro de la Rosa, who quit the GPDA in protest in 2006 following the Kerpen native's infamous 'parking' incident during qualifying for that season's Monaco Grand Prix.
The Spaniard openly slated Schumacher's actions in deliberately stalling his Ferrari on the racing line in a desperate effort to hang onto pole position in the Principality after committing a late-session error – and the Sauber ace is presently debating whether or not to continue in his GPDA chairmanship.
The matter will be discussed further in Melbourne ahead of next weekend's Australian Grand Prix – and the outcome of that meeting could well prove decisive in determining whether or not the criticism-sensitive Schumacher rejoins an organisation that he led from its reformation in 1994 all the way up until his 'retirement' in 2006.
“Michael still supports the work of the GPDA,” the 41-year-old's spokeswoman and manager Sabine Kehm told German publication Bild Zeitung
, “but he is not sure if he will join again. After all, he took the lead in this area for years. Now he really wants the others, who have taken over in the meantime, to continue.”
The pioneering GPDA first came into being in 1961, with Sir Stirling Moss one of its earliest chairmen – but it was subsequently disbanded just over two decades later in 1982 due to ongoing conflicts between governing body FISA and FOCA, the Formula One Constructors' Association.