Autosport contributor and Formula 1 politics expert DIETER RENCKEN gives his verdict on the Grand Prix Drivers' Association's extraordinary open letter calling for major change in F1
My Autosport column has consistently criticised Formula 1's governance and revenue structures, having first revealed them in 2012 even before they were cast in contracts.
Therefore it is difficult to argue with the points made by the GPDA in its statement: F1's governance is fatally flawed, and will remain so until the covenants between commercial rights holder Formula One Management, the teams, and the FIA expire in 2020.
That the drivers are entitled to their own opinions is a given. However, one must question the GPDA's motives.
Only since the body has had a non-active F1 driver in Alex Wurz - appointed in October 2014 - at the helm has it become active in non-driving issues, such as calling for fan initiatives in order to improve 'the show'.
The entrepreneurial Wurz, who has close links to the FIA Institute and acts as advisor to the Williams board in addition to other interests such as an advanced driving centre and a circuit design company, recently emerged as one of the primary forces behind the nascent World Rally Championship Drivers' Association, with the Austrian tipping fellow Institute member Robert Reid as chairman. Does the highly intelligent Wurz hold political ambitions, and see F1 (and soon rally) driver bodies as a springboard?
The irony is, of course, that the trio of drivers to put their names to the GPDA letter, namely Wurz, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button - Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, too, can be included after both recently voiced similarly critical comments - are contracted to teams that benefit most from F1's processes: Wurz via Williams, Vettel with Ferrari, Button and Alonso through McLaren, and the reigning champion for Mercedes.
So if the GPDA really is sufficiently concerned, in the first instance the signatories should take issue with their various team bosses, who are in at the ground floor by being members of F1's Strategy Group, rather than addressing the matter via an open letter copied to the media - which, perversely, the drivers did not even mention in their list of F1 players.
In a nutshell, the Strategy Group consists of five permanent team members plus the highest non-qualifying team (currently Force India), each with one vote, plus the FIA and FOM, with six votes apiece and a simple majority voting structure. Each player group therefore potentially has equal input into the process.
If the teams cannot agree a unified position, the drivers should take that up with their team bosses, whose mobile numbers they surely have on speed dial. Equally, at F1 Commission level the teams hold by far the largest single block - 11 votes - versus another 15 split singly among FOM, the FIA, sponsors, technical partners, engine suppliers and race promoters.
Given various commercial and technical alliances, the teams potentially control 16 of 26 votes, close to the 66 per cent required to pass a motion for the following season. Only immediate issues require unanimity.
Conspicuously absent from the GPDA letter are proposals to improve the situation, possibly because the drivers realise that only by scrapping (legally-binding) bilateral agreements between FOM and enfranchised five teams - the other being Red Bull Racing - can the flawed structures, including the inequitable revenue structure that lies at the core of the matter by mitigating against open competition, be overhauled.
The net effect would, though, be reduced FOM revenues for the five beneficiaries, in turn impacting on driver retainers and car performance among the signatories' teams. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas...
It will be fascinating to question all members of the GPDA as to their opinions during open media sessions in Bahrain.
Should they stick to the stock phrase of "we don't discuss GPDA matters externally", then clearly they do not share the courage of the GPDA's stated convictions - in turn suggesting that the letter was none other than a publicity stunt, possibly with political overtones. Until then the jury remains out.