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Page last updated at 20:47 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 21:47 UK

F1 drivers fume over licence hike

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso is keen for the drivers to present a united front

Formula One drivers have hit out at the rising cost of the super licence which allows them to compete in the sport.

Last year it was 1,725 euros (1,354) plus 456 euros (357) per point won.

But FIA president Max Mosley increased it this season to 10,000 euros (7,858) plus 2,000 euros (1,570) for every point won.

"It's a ridiculous amount," Renault's Fernando Alonso told BBC Radio 5 Live. "We should pay a reasonable price. It cannot change 1,000% in a year."

The new legislation means, for example, that Lewis Hamilton and world champion Kimi Raikkonen would pay around 180,000 for their points hauls from last season.

Asked whether drivers may protest via a strike, Alonso added: "We don't have many possibilities.

"But for sure it's one of the options we are talking about in the GPDA. We need to do something all together because as a group we have more effect than as a single person."

But Alonso found little support for the possibility of strike action.

"You can't threaten these guys [the FIA]. You just don't do it," said Red Bull driver Mark Webber, who along with team-mate David Coulthard and Alonso is one of the three directors of the Grand Prix Driver's Association (GPDA), the body that represents the drivers.

Hamilton who, like Raikkonen, is not a GPDA member, said: I don't believe for one minute the drivers will take such drastic measures.

Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't pay 300,000-a-year for him to play football on top of whatever the licence is for him to walk on the pitch

Red Bull's Mark Webber

"We have the British Grand Prix in a couple of weeks' time and other grands prix to follow, and I'm certainly not planning on missing any of them."

Mosley believes it is not a lot to ask from well-paid drivers who benefit from high levels of spending on safety, but the GPDA may ask for a rethink.

"We all love the sport. We wouldn't go to Silverstone and say we can't roll...we strive to get here and we don't want to look like prima donnas," Webber added.

"But the public need to understand how some of these things get decided.

"Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't pay 300,000-a-year for him to play football on top of whatever the licence is for him to walk on the pitch."

Raikkonen said a drivers' strike was "never going to happen" while Coulthard dismissed the possibility of a strike as "rubbish".

"Not every driver pays his super licence," the Scot explained. "Some of the drivers have an agreement in their contract where the team pay the super licence.

"But it's affecting some and not others, which is not entirely fair, so it needs to be discussed and understood."

BBC Radio 5 Live F1 correspondent David Croft said: "A driver's strike is a very long way off.

"But the fact that the Grand Prix Driver's Association are discussing that possibility does show the strength of feeling on the grid."

Robert Kubica, who currently leads the drivers' standings ahead of Sunday's French Grand Prix, said he agreed with Alonso on the rising licence costs.

"It has increased quite a lot compared to last year," he said. "We think it's too much.

"Yet drivers who don't have quick cars and are not scoring points don't care because they don't pay, so we are trying to convince the FIA to reduce the costs.

"The FIA says the money goes to safety, and I agree safety is important.... and they are doing a very good job on safety.

"But I don't see why some drivers have to pay more. In the end we are all driving F1 cars."

Australian Webber said he hoped the drivers would be able to discuss the matter with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone at the French Grand Prix.

"We can't get a meeting with Max (Mosley) whereas we can see Bernie a lot easier," he added.

see also
Drivers talk safety with F1 boss
02 Aug 05 |  Formula One
Toyota investigated over licence
13 May 05 |  Formula One
Leinders gets licence lift
12 Mar 04 |  Formula One

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