How the GPDA has made F1 a safer place
The Grand Prix Drivers' Association doesn't attract much attention from the sport's media, but it has been instrumental in driving safety improvements in Formula 1 since its re-establishment in 1994, says Edd Straw
The losses of Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli, both high-profile racers whose deaths grabbed news headlines around the world, have given all competition drivers good reason to pause and contemplate their own mortality. Even those who didn't know either Wheldon or Simoncelli were affected by what happened at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Sepang and, as this week's AUTOSPORT magazine explains, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association has already requested that studies and reports into Wheldon's crash be supplied to them.
The GPDA is sometimes described as the Formula 1 drivers' trade union. In its original guise, from 1961 until the early 1980s, this was a more accurate characterisation. Today, the GPDA, which was reformed under Michael Schumacher's stewardship in the wake of the tragic 1994 San Marino Grand Prix weekend, is focused solely on safety. It's an organisation that flits in and out of the public consciousness, with events such as Felipe Massa's potentially life-threatening crash in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix pushing it to the top of the news agenda. For the rest of the time it keeps a low profile, but that's not so say it isn't working hard.
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