Russell: GDPA director role has ‘opened my eyes’

Sam Cooper
Mercedes' George Russell addresses the media over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend. Barcelona, May 2022.

Mercedes' George Russell addresses the media over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend. Barcelona, May 2022.

George Russell said being one of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association directors for a second consecutive year has “opened my eyes” to a lot of the things the association does.

The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) is the trade union of Formula 1 drivers and meets, considers and debates topics that arise in the series.

This union has been particularly important this season after the multiple missile strikes near the track during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend. After the attack, the GPDA held a four-hour meeting with the drivers to discuss their thoughts.

Although membership of the GPDA is not compulsory, every driver on the grid currently is part of it. As a member, they are given the rights to vote on the leadership which includes the chairman alongside directors.

Former F1 driver Alexander Wurz serves as the chairman alongside legal adviser Anastasia Fowle and current drivers Sebastian Vettel and Russell.

Russell is in his second year in the post having replaced Romain Grosjean following the 2020 season and joins the likes of Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher to have held the role.

Ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, Russell was asked what impact the role had had on him and how he dealt with instances such as the missile attack, porpoising and the FIA’s ban on jewellery. In response, the Mercedes driver did admit it had “opened my eyes” in terms of what the GPDA does.

“There’s quite a lot going on, to be honest, but no, all good,” Russell told the media. “I think, Alex Wurz and Anastasia [Fowle] who’s another director, has been a huge part of this and they do the majority of the work behind the scenes.

“It’s opened my eyes a lot to their input. I think we’ve all got a lot, all of us drivers, have a lot to be grateful for, for those two, especially. But yeah, enjoying it.

“There’s always conversations ongoing and just trying to improve the sport. Also, in conversations with Formula 1, trying to improve circuit safety, design, whatever it may be. think it’s just something a little bit different and I enjoyed it.”

The GPDA was first founded in 1961 under chairman Stirling Moss but disbanded in 1982 following the South African Grand Prix.

Following the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, Niki Lauda, Christian Fittipaldi, Schumacher and Gerhard Berger re-established the GPDA during the 1994 Monaco Grand Prix race weekend.