Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman, Alex Wurz, has said F1 drivers will continue to take a stand together over potential issues that arise in the sport.
Following a missile attack on a nearby oil factory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend, Formula 1 came under mounting pressure to cancel the event in order to protect the health and safety of the paddock.
However, Formula 1, the FIA and the team bosses decided pretty swiftly that the event would continue and it was very much business as usual in Jeddah – but the drivers felt differently.
The usual Friday night drivers’ briefing turned into a four-hour showdown as all 20 drivers expressed their concerns and doubts about continuing to race in Jeddah.
And, while the drivers were eventually convinced to stay and race, they received widespread praise for making their feelings heard and not just merely accepting the message from those in charge of the sport.
“It’s definitely very impressive to watch that they strongly came together,” Wurz told The Guardian, reflecting on the events of Saudi Arabia.
“As they did so over the last few years, but now it is demanded of athletes. The transformation of young people taking this responsibility is impressive.
“We are talking about people who are dedicated to a professional life and they are going out and informing themselves and forming their opinions.”
Wurz also said that the drivers’ actions in Saudi Arabia acted as further strong evidence that drivers have a much bigger role to play now in Formula 1 and are not solely there to jump in the cockpit and start racing.
“We can see that sport has undergone a very swift change over the last few years,” he said.
“It really came to the surface with the issue of racism and with Black Lives Matter. Before, drivers were seen as sportspeople where the position was: ‘I am a sportsperson, I am not getting involved in politics.’
“That time has really gone.
“In the last two to three years those young people have suddenly come to the position that they should have an opinion and that they should also talk and express their opinions and deal with their responsibility for it.”
Drivers will continue to band together on political issues
The drivers will be banding together more often over issues relating to the sport when they arise in the future.