London — Formula One drivers including British world champion Lewis Hamilton, have shown rare unanimity by all signing up for their union amid concern for the sport’s future.
Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Alex Wurz told the British Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday that the Monaco-based organisation now had 100% membership "for maybe the first time in history".
Hamilton, who clinched his fourth title with Mercedes in 2017, has not been a member in recent seasons, while others who had been outside the body had included Ferrari’s 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Wurz said Formula One, whose ownership changed in January 2017 with US-based Liberty Media taking over, was entering "a period of evolution, change and perhaps even a degree of turmoil".
"They [the drivers] recognise they must be united and represented to face that challenge."
The contracts between teams and commercial rights holders mostly expire at the end of 2020, as does agreement on what kind of engine the sport should use.
Ferrari, Formula One’s oldest and most successful team, have threatened to leave the race if they deem changes go against their interests.
Racer Wurz said a main concern was the risk of key values being diminished. The drivers wanted "to prevent any politics or power fights from ultimately compromising on-track performance", he said.
Rule changes in 2017 have made the cars faster and harder to drive, a move welcomed by those on the starting grid, while Liberty has brought in experts to tackle other issues such as improving the noise levels.
"We can’t be naive about the situation Formula One is in, with its complicated governing rules and agreements between various key stakeholders.
"Business decisions and political power fights have damaged the sport enough at exactly such vulnerable times over [a] decade," said Wurz.