The stand-off between the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) and FIA over the hike in Formula 1 licence fees in 2009 has taken a step in the latter's favour with the news that three drivers have paid up for the mandatory super-licences.

Last week it was revealed that the new increase in the price of the super-licence - in-line with inflation - has met with considerable opposition amongst the sport's competitors [see separate story - click here]. In 2008, the governing body dramatically increased the cost of a licence from EUR1,690 ($2,165) to EUR10,000, with each point scored coming at a price of an additional EUR2,000, up from EUR447 in 2007.

Such a significant jump means reigning F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, for example, will have to pay a staggering $270,000 merely to be able to compete this year. The GPDA has advised its members not to agree until talks have been held with the FIA - describing the rise as 'unreasonable' and 'inherently unfair' - but three drivers, it now transpires, have gone against that counsel.

"We can confirm that the FIA has received payment from three drivers," a spokesman for the governing body told international news agency Reuters, whilst not divulging any further details or names.

FIA President Max Mosley, however, gave short shrift to the GPDA's argument, and is adamant that no money means no racing - even if rumours of a drivers' strike during the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne at the end of next month should the deadlock not be broken seem somewhat fanciful.

"In the present climate, somebody who is earning several million a year and doesn't want to spend one or two per cent of that to get a licence for his trade is not going to get a lot of sympathy," the 68-year-old contended.



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