The Grand Prix Drivers' Association has been thrown into further turmoil after David Coulthard revealed to his fellow drivers that FIA president Max Mosley called him last week to express his displeasure at his behaviour over the Indianapolis tyre fiasco, Autosport-Atlas can exclusively reveal
The drivers have been thrust into the centre of the continued controversy over the United States Grand Prix events, following two separate initiatives aimed at supporting the teams and protecting their future interests.
The first was a written submission signed by 19 drivers - including the Michelin racers, some of the Friday testers and the Minardi drivers - which gave their full support to the Michelin teams' decision not to take part in the Grand Prix. It was handed in at last week's FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing into the events at Indy.
The second was a GPDA-led document trying to secure the drivers' rights not to race if there were major concerns about safety - and thereby prevent them from being punished as the teams have over the Indianapolis events. This initiative fell through after failing to secure a unanimous support among all drivers.
Autosport-Atlas has learned that following the submission of the letter and the attempts at securing the GPDA document, FIA president Mosley called David Coulthard, one of the four GPDA directors.
Coulthard told fellow drivers at a GPDA meeting at Magny-Cours on Friday that Mosley was highly irritated and had expressed his displeasure in no uncertain terms over the actions of the drivers since Indianapolis.
It is believed that Coulthard was singled out for the Mosley conversation because he was openly critical of the failure to find a solution at Indianapolis that would have allowed teams to race, and because his signature was at the top of the document submitted to the FIA - suggesting he was the instigator.
However, there are suggestions that the document was inspired by Renault boss Flavio Briatore - although he himself has denied that. "I didn't know anything about it, and in fact I was the one asking my drivers where it came from, and they replied it was from the GPDA," Briatore told Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday.
Coulthard's revelation in the GPDA meeting had upset a number of his rivals, with one claiming that they viewed Mosley's discussion with the Red Bull Racing driver as 'threatening and inappropriate'.
This led to a heated debate in the meeting and increased a growing rift within the GPDA ranks. According to witnesses, GPDA president Michael Schumacher was in a minority among the drivers in refusing to support a GPDA statement that criticised the governing body and Mosley for his attitude. One driver claimed also that Schumacher remained adamant that Indianapolis was a 'technical issue and not a safety issue'.
Although the drivers agreed at the meeting not to discuss the matter in public and continue the discussion in another meeting, planned for the Friday of the British Grand Prix, there are now suggestions that some GPDA drivers are considering issuing an independent statement which would express their loss of confidence in Schumacher's leadership of the GPDA - a body that sets out primarily to take care of the drivers' safety - and criticising Mosley's stance.
This statement could be issued as early as Sunday in Magny-Cours, with talks about the statement understood to have continued in a meeting between team bosses and drivers at the Renault motorhome on Saturday afternoon.
Coulthard stayed behind following the meeting to talk with fellow GPDA director Jarno Trulli and there are even suggestions that the Briton is now considering whether he will remain a director of the body in light of the recent developments.
Coulthard and Schumacher were unavailable for comment. Autosport-Atlas will publish further information as it becomes available.
Reporting by Jonathan Noble, Dieter Rencken, Michele Lostia and Biranit Goren
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