F1 veteran Stefan Johansson has blasted today's drivers for their recent open letter. Although signed off by the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), it emerged recently in Bahrain that the letter was in fact backed by the entire field of F1's active drivers. But some, like Jacques Villeneuve, have hit back at the drivers, with the 1997 world champion telling them to "shut up".
Former McLaren and Ferrari driver Stefan Johansson agrees that the GPDA letter, highly critical of F1's governance and direction, was "a very bad idea". "All the letter did was state the obvious and I love the way Bernie dealt with it. Essentially he agreed with them but corrected their spelling and grammar, which only underlines the respect and reaction it got from the people it was meant to be addressed to," the Swede wrote on his blog.
The current drivers, however, have defended the letter on the basis that they are in fact well-placed to contribute at a difficult time for the sport. "We are willing to help, as we are fans of this sport as well," Williams driver Valtteri Bottas told Finnish media on a visit to the country last week. "So far, nothing has happened. We don't have any right to vote in these decisions that are taken," he added.
But Johansson, 59, thinks Ecclestone is right in simply answering "No" when asked if the drivers should be given a seat on a body like the F1 Commission. "As long as the voice of the drivers is not one of the top guys, I don't think anyone will give two hoots about what they have to say," he said. "Their current president (Alex Wurz) is not even an active driver anymore. Judging by the various comments from various teams and the governing bodies, I think they did a good job at shooting themselves in the foot, that's all," Johansson added.
However, yet another former driver, Gerhard Berger, thinks the drivers at least have the right to express their opinions. "I think it's their right to open their mouths," the former McLaren and Ferrari driver told Germany's Auto Bild. "The drivers are the only ones who are sitting in the cars, but the decisions need to end with Bernie and Jean Todt."
"One of the big problems nowadays is that everyone has a say and so decisions are forever stuck in working groups," Berger added. "The leadership of formula one has sufficient knowledge, experience and intuition to make quick and correct decisions." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing