The Grand Prix Drivers' Association has hit back at the FIA's plan to increase the fee for a mandatory superlicence, branding the move as 'inherently unfair'.

Substantial rises in the price of a superlicence over the past two seasons has generated an outcry amongst the Formula 1 drivers, although it is this year's rise in line with inflation that has seen the GPDA advise them not to sign for their licenses just yet.

Coming in the week that FIA president Max Mosley dismissed the drivers' concerns as 'nonsense', the GPDA are accusing the FIA of using this as a smokescreen to make up revenue shortfalls in their budget.

Last year, the FIA increased the cost of a license from 1,690 euros ($2,165) to 10,000 euros, while each point would see them pay an additional 2,000 euros, up from 447 euros in 2007.

Pointing out that 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who isn't a member of the GPDA, would have had to pay $270,000 for the superlicence he needs in order to go racing, they have aired their misgivings in a hard-hitting statement aimed squarely at the likelihood of further increases.

"These increases were made without any prior consultation with the drivers, and the first the drivers knew of the increases was when the invoices were received by their respective teams and via the media in January 2008," it said in a statement. "The proposed increases are inherently unfair, both in the way they were introduced and the way they impact on individual drivers.

"Since these increases were introduced by the FIA, they have been opposed unanimously by the drivers because they are unreasonable and unfair.

Part of the disagreement also stems from the request by Mosley for drivers to make their earnings public knowledge, something the GPDA is refusing to co-operate with.

"The GPDA has - on behalf of all drivers holding Super Licences including the non-GPDA members - appropriately and professionally sought to resolve the issue privately with the FIA throughout the 2008 season, culminating in a meeting with Mr. Mosley at the Italian Grand Prix last September which opened up the way for further discussion.

"This included a request from the FIA to the drivers to disclose their gross earnings. However, Mr. Mosley is incorrect in his claim to the media that he had not received an answer from the drivers as a letter was sent by the GPDA in December declining the request because it was not relevant to ascertaining the appropriate Super Licence fees.

"Furthermore, drivers' gross (and net) earnings are confidential to the drivers, their management and financial advisors and any relevant tax authorities, and should be respected as such."

The statement went on to claim the GPDA are not opposed to an increase in the fee for a superlicence, but insisted it had to be 'reasonable'.

"The drivers are not opposed to a reasonable increase in the Super Licence fees, the fee which should cover the administrative and other costs relating to the issue of the licence. Therefore, the drivers have offered to pay the 2007 Super Licence fees adjusted upwards by inflation for the 2008 season with a corresponding increase for the 2009 season.

"The drivers contend that the Super Licence fees should not be a revenue stream for the FIA and such a change constitutes a major departure in principle for both past Super Licence fees and fees for any other drivers' licences. The FIA should raise sufficient funds from the exploitation of its commercial rights."

The price of a superlicence, which is necessary for F1 drivers in order to go racing, rose 200 per cent in 2008, while it is substantially more expensive than the $4,000 required to race in NASCAR.

"Everyone should be careful how they treat this issue," urged Red Bull Racing star Sebastian Vettel, in an interview with German publication the Rheinische Post, "because no-one wants the headlines to say that the drivers are going to strike.

"That has never been said, only that we are not happy with the situation. We do want to drive [and] we are open to co-operate with the FIA. What happens in the future, we will have to wait and see."



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