Five ideal candidates to replace Sebastian Vettel as GPDA director

Sam Cooper
Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton and Pierre Gasly.

Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton and Pierre Gasly.

Although Sebastian Vettel has been given more time to decide if he will stay on as a GPDA director, a successor may soon need to be chosen.

The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association acts as the trade union for the F1 drivers and was particularly important at the Saudi Arabian and Japanese Grands Prix last year.

With former F1 driver Alex Wurz as chairman, he has three directors to work alongside which are currently George Russell, lawyer Anastasia Fowle and Vettel.

The four-time World Champion has been in the role since 2010 but with him now stepping away from the sport, there are question marks as to whether he will stay on with the GPDA.

But if he does choose to step away, who will take over? Here at, we’ve taken a look at five likely candidates for the role.

Valtteri Bottas

Following Vettel’s retirement and Daniel Ricciardo’s departure from the grid, Bottas became the active driver with the fourth highest number of race starts behind only Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez so he has plenty of experience in the sport.

Not only that but his experience is varied when compared to Alonso and Hamilton. Bottas has spent time at the lower end of the grid in his first season with Williams and his five years at Mercedes taught him what life is like at the top. Now at Alfa Romeo, he is fighting amongst the midfield and this varied experience should make it easy for him to relate to almost every driver on the grid.

Bottas also seems like someone who is able to see the bigger picture and does not mind standing up for what he believes in, as seen by his recent comments following the FIA’s ban on driver statements.

As one of the seemingly more well liked members of the grid, Bottas could be an ideal choice.

Carlos Sainz

Another viable candidate could be Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz as he has frequently shown he is willing to speak up if he feels something is not right.

Going back to the inaugural Miami Grand Prix in 2022, Sainz was one of the most vocal critics of the circuit especially in regard to the barriers having crashed into them during free practice.

The only concern could be how much time Sainz is willing to give up for the role. He is already in a pressure-filled environment just by being a Ferrari driver and as he backs himself for a title push in 2023, his mind may be more focused on his own worries than those of the other 19 drivers.

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Sergio Perez

The Mexican fits the category of experience both in terms of races completed but also a variety in where he has been fighting on the grid.

Perez also seems like a universally well-liked character on the grid and his reaction to the start of the Japanese Grand Prix showed he is willing to stand up for driver safety.

But, like with Sainz, will Perez be too focused on a potential title battle to devote his full attention to a director role?

There is no reason to suggest that a GPDA director cannot also go for the title, after all Vettel became director during his first title winning campaign and Michael Schumacher even served as chairman during his winning days but it is not an easy balancing act.

Pierre Gasly

As far back as 2018, Pierre Gasly has expressed an interest in making sure the drivers are heard by the sport’s bosses and he has continued that to this day.

Following the Japanese Grand Prix in which he came close to hitting a safety truck on a wet Suzuka circuit, Gasly demanded more from the FIA in terms of protecting the drivers and continued to push for better safety measures.

Like the other drivers mentioned, Gasly has experience up and down the grid but perhaps a move to a whole new team, the first of his career, is too much to combine with the GPDA role?

Lewis Hamilton

Given Lewis Hamilton has been at the forefront of the sport for 16 years, you have reason to believe that he has already been offered a GPDA position but turned it down.

Hamilton is without doubt the driver with the most interests away from the circuit so perhaps the seven-time World Champion does not believe he has the time in his schedule to commit fully to the GPDA role.

If he were to agree to it, there would be few who would doubt he would be good in the role given his constant willingness to stand up for causes he believes in and his many years of experience in the sport.

For now, Vettel remains alongside Russell and Fowle as director but with the first race of the 2023 season drawing ever nearer, time will soon come for him to make a decision.

If the German does decide to step away, chairman Wurz revealed to that the drivers would take a vote on his replacement at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April.