Formula 1 stars have sought to play down suggestions that they are considering staging a strike during the British Grand Prix round of the 2008 world championship in a fortnight's time, despite continuing unrest and anger over the FIA's proposal to significantly increase the cost of super licences.

It had been claimed earlier in the Magny-Cours weekend that the sport's 20 drivers were considering industrial action over the developments, with Renault's Fernando Alonso believed to be at the forefront of any such move.

The recent decision to hike up the cost of paying for the licences - taken in-line with what are perceived to be rising salaries for even the lowest-paid drivers - has frustrated the more successful, who currently have to add $713 for every point scored in the previous season to the standard $2,700 annual fee, but stand to face a rise of around 1,000 per cent, to $15,600 for the licence and $3,125 for every point [see separate story - click here]. That means, for example, that if reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen equals his 110-point haul from last year, the Finn would have to pay $300,000.

Raikkonen is reputed to earn some $39 million per year from Ferrari, with other leading drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Alonso believed to be on around $15 million. Some drivers' contracts stipulate that the team pays for the super licence fee.

The topic was a matter of debate during Friday's reunion of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), and members now reportedly want to arrange a meeting with officials from the sport's governing body to discuss the situation - a precursor to holding such meetings on a regular basis. GPDA chairman and McLaren-Mercedes test driver Pedro de la Rosa, however, insisted such speculation was no more than just that - mere speculation.

"One thing that is clear is that we never suggested a strike," the Spaniard told The Associated Press, whilst acknowledging that the first the drivers had heard about the price increase had been through the media. "We're just not happy about the way it was implemented. All of this talk of strike has just been rumours.

"For sure we are not happy about it - it's a big increase from one year to another. We're concerned about what may happen in the future; it's just not fair. We have asked to meet as soon as possible - this is an issue that needs to be handled quickly.

"We're not happy that the public knows about this; this is a private issue between the drivers and the FIA."

The FIA said its president Max Mosley wrote to the drivers' association on 6 June in a bid to organise a meeting, but had yet to receive a reply. F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone allegedly requested a post-qualifying meeting at Magny-Cours with GPDA stalwarts de la Rosa, Alonso, Robert Kubica, David Coulthard and Mark Webber.

Former McLaren team-mates Alonso and Hamilton, meanwhile, perhaps unsurprisingly took different viewpoints on the issue, with the latter insisting that he has no intention at all of not performing in front of his adoring home crowd at Silverstone in two weeks' time.

"For sure it's one of the options we are talking about in the GPDA," former double world champion Alonso said of the strike. "It's a ridiculous amount. We should pay a reasonable price. It cannot change 1,000 percent in a year."

"I don't believe for one minute the drivers will take such drastic measures," countered Hamilton. "We have the British Grand Prix in a couple of weeks' time and other grands prix to follow, and I'm certainly not planning on missing any of them."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...