Ollie Barstow, F1 Editor

So it appears F1's qualifying shambles isn't quite destined to be consigned to an awkward footnote in the history of the sport's misguided attempts to try something new.

F1 has a relatively short memory. A dramatic race and the relief that came from Fernando Alonso's lucky escape in Melbourne generally occupying the headlines come the end of the weekend, with that qualifying session seemingly destined to be quietly filed under 'misadventure' as F1 mercifully administered an immediate U-turn.

Not this time it seems - the drivers aren't quite willing to let this go. In fact, far from a footnote, this failed qualifying format could be the pivotal plot twist that ripples through the sport's hierarchy.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association's strongly-worded statement lambasting the management structure of F1 and demanding reform may have been unexpected but it comes at a time when there seems to be increasing galvanisation between the drivers to stand up against the powers that be.

As embarrassing as it was, the qualifying error in isolation has not prompted these overt criticisms, but the way it was played out on a public stage and exposed the 'bigger picture' of F1's political flaws has however kick-started a very interesting concertina effect.

The general consensus across F1 is that the sport isn't listening and even if it is, the vested interests of the various strategy groups and commissions mean views or proposals are either filtered, revised or simply forgotten. Granted, this is not a new topic - too many race weekends are remembered for political fall-out in the paddock rather than the action on track -, but while the ticket-buying, pay-to-view TV public feel the value of their support is diminishing by the season, it's clear the drivers are now feeling ostracised by their own sport.

The increasing unease amongst the drivers have been scattered across snippets and soundbites in recent months, the more experienced among them - Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button - all fairly forward with their views. Good headlines in isolation, but assembled together they prove rather more telling.

This GPDA statement essentially groups it together for the first time in one engrossing A4 page. And it isn't just speaking for the drivers.

Whilst as a fan I'd feel slight frustration that it would potentially take the drivers to pipe up for the FIA and governing bodies to listen when fans thought they were making their views heard last year through the fan forums and surveys, judging by the feedback the statement succinctly gets a lot of public opinion across too. Indeed, while the statement has been written in the name of the drivers, there is certainly an element of speaking for the fans as well, important since this is potentially as close as the general public could possibly get to ensure their feelings are known to the money-makers.

It will no doubt apply pressure at a time when the governing body was probably hoping its clunky U-turn would be enough for this chapter to simply be forgotten, but while some may read the statement as establishing an 'us and them' faction, President Alex Wurz makes it clear the intention is to get its feelings across first and foremost and, secondly, offer its assistance in improving the sport's structure.

"I feel, in order to make our sport fit for the future and next generations, the business model and the way F1 is run, needs to be addressed and redefined. It should be followed by a clear road map or master plan.

"I am not convinced that individual updates to sporting or technical rules are the solution to A) stop F1 losing viewers and fans, and B) initiate global growth. But the bottom line is, the desired outcome to the drivers' statement would be to achieve above points A and B."

So what does this mean for the future? Well, the GPDA has the potential to become increasingly vocal in unionising the drivers. This can partly be explained by Wurz being able to devote more of his time to the organisation and the feelings of the drivers following his retirement from racing

Indeed, though he was always influential in this role, Wurz is likely to be more present from within F1's inner sanctum, fighting the corner as drivers focus on their day jobs. It is thus plausible to imagine that this bold statement won't be the last if the GPDA feels there are flaws that need addressing.

Ironically, qualifying, the fall-out and this statement came after Charlie Whiting insisted the drivers have plenty of chances to give their views on F1 matters, before mentioning off-hand that many (singling out Lewis Hamilton in particular) don't bother turning up to meetings anyway. In response, Hamilton said he doesn't feel there is much point as nothing changes. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

For the teams' part, several prominent decision-makers agree the sport needs a shake-up at the top, with Christian Horner repeatedly expressing a desire to shift important matters away from the teams altogether. The manufacturers may not be so willing unfurl their grip, though when their own drivers are revolting against decisions their own team contributed to, it can't be good for business either...

So, the tone and agenda for the upcoming Bahrain Grand Prix has been set, but the key discussion will be whether the FIA and the commercial rights holders have put down their pens to read and listen. It's unlikely we will see Jean Todt offering a retort, though Ecclestone's isn't one to avoid a good quip, so standby...

Funnily enough, I was already researching the drivers' contractual dispute and subsequent strike of the 1982 South African Grand Prix for a different feature I am writing and though we are - hopefully - still far from drivers barricading themselves in a hotel, this statement is indicative of the collective voice drivers are increasingly keen to be heard.

Back in 1982, Bernie Ecclestone was ultra-dismissive of the drivers, declaring that fans only want to see the Ferrari anyway, bluntly declaring 'they cannot see the bleeding driver anyway! Really, I ask you, what asset are they?'

34 years later, one wonders if it's an opinion he retains...

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