Russell becomes F1 GPDA director in move that speaks volumes - The Race
Formula 1

Russell becomes F1 GPDA director in move that speaks volumes

Mar 23 2021
By Matt Beer and Edd Straw

Williams racer George Russell has replaced Romain Grosjean as a director of Formula 1’s Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.

The GPDA is effectively the F1 drivers’ trade union, and their vehicle for pushing for safety improvements in the championship.

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Russell and the GPDA’s legal advisor Anastasia Fowle are both joining Sebastian Vettel as directors, with former F1 racer Alex Wurz continuing as chairman.

Grosjean, now racing in IndyCar, will stay involved with the organisation in an advisory capacity for 2021 “to finish his ongoing work on safety” and “the lessons learned” from his 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix crash, according to a GPDA statement.

As a 23-year-old in only his third F1 season, Russell is a relatively young and inexperienced appointment to the GPDA role – but not unprecedented, with Wurz and Mark Webber among other drivers who have had such a position earlier in their careers.

The Race says

– Edd Straw

George Russell

George Russell is one of the less experienced drivers in F1, but is a logical choice as a GPDA director.

He has the respect of his fellow competitors – after all, if he didn’t he wouldn’t have been accepted as a director – and is an intelligent, thoughtful character who has also shown himself willing and able to express his opinion. A GPDA director has to be willing to put their head above the parapet.

While such inexperienced drivers becoming GPDA directors isn’t unprecedented, those who do become directors so early in their careers tend to be that kind of character.

Russell is a remarkably focused competitor, but he also has a broad view of the world and is engaged in F1 matters that some rivals might perceive as peripheral to their job. He’s also savvy enough to take any competitive edge he might gain from this role, albeit not in a way that compromises his GPDA input.

It’s also an important role. While the GPDA is usually perceived primarily as a safety organisation, its remit stretches beyond that and has become increasingly active in lobbying in F1 in the broader sense.

For example, when you hear drivers talking about the need for less sensitive tyres in the future, that is part of a plan to keep up the pressure and hopefully improve F1 both for the competitors and fans.

Russell will attack his role as GPDA director with the intensity and professionalism he does his driving. He will serve his fellow drivers, and F1 as a whole, very well.

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“It is an honour and privilege to be nominated director of the GPDA,” said Russell.

“I appreciate the support of my fellow drivers in entrusting this role to me and recognise the responsibility it entails.

“In its six decades of existence, the GPDA has been an integral part of supporting and shaping F1 safety, for the sport and our fans.

“I am looking forward to tackling the new challenges and opportunities alongside Anastasia, Sebastian and Alex.”

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