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F1 drivers elect Romain Grosjean new GPDA director

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Romain Grosjean has been made a director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association by his fellow Formula 1 drivers, taking over from Jenson Button.

After stepping back from his McLaren F1 race seat at the end of last year, Button has not been present at any grands prix so far this year, but is due to race in Monaco when Fernando Alonso is at the Indianapolis 500.

The GPDA held a vote for its new director during the Russian Grand Prix weekend, with Grosjean being nominated by his peers to take over the role.

Grosjean races for NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ eponymous F1 team, and is one of the sport’s longest-serving drivers, having made his debut back in 2009 with Renault.

Grosjean joins fellow director Sebastian Vettel and chairman Alexander Wurz in running the GPDA.

“In the GPDA assembly held in Sochi on Friday 28 April, Romain Grosjean was elected GPDA director, replacing Jenson Button who stepped down from the position as a result of not permanently racing in the 2017 F1 world championship,” a short statement from the GPDA reads.

“I am proud to have been elected by my peers as director of the GPDA. We race drivers don’t always hold the same opinion, but as a group we are united in wanting the best for our sport,” Grosjean said.

“I believe was have an important role and duty to coordinate between each other and support the stakeholders in the evolution of the sport.”

“It was a pleasure working with Jenson over the past few years as he always puts in the interests of the drivers and the sport first. Thanks JB for all your effort,” Wurz added.

“Over recent years Romain has been a very active GPDA member. He has a lot of energy and thoughts about our sport and Sebastian. I welcome him as a great addition to the Grand Prix Drivers Association board.”

Coulthard: Wurz an unsung hero in Formula 1

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Ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard has identified Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Alexander Wurz as one of the series’ unsung heroes for his efforts to improve safety standards throughout 2015.

Driver safety in motorsport has been a key issue once again in 2015 following the deaths of F1’s Jules Bianchi and IndyCar’s Justin Wilson, both of whom sustained severe head injuries in races over the past 18 months.

Wurz balanced his commitments as chairman of the GPDA with a drive in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Toyota in 2015, but will retire from motorsport following a one-off appearance for Chip Ganassi Racing at the Daytona 24 later this month.

Wurz told MotorSportsTalk back in August that he believed closed cockpits would be ‘the most logical choice’ for single-seater racing in the future as he continued to push for improved safety standards in motorsport.

Writing in a column for The Telegraph, Coulthard praised Wurz for his efforts across the course of 2015 despite the Austrian not spending much time in the limelight.

“For all the big meetings he brings all the drivers together, even those who are not [GPDA] members, and makes sure they stand as a united front,” Coulthard wrote.

“After every race he writes to Bernie Ecclestone, the sport’s chief executive, Jean Todt, the FIA president, and Charlie Whiting, the race director, to express the drivers’ feelings on the circuit or any accidents that have taken place.

“Team principals may sound off in front of the cameras for their own ends, but Alex works quietly behind the scenes for the greater good of the drivers and the sport. He does this away from the glare of publicity and receives little public recognition.”

Coulthard went on to tip Wurz for an increased role in racing in the future, believing that the offer to run Manor Marussia F1 Team is just the first of many he will receive.

“I have no doubt that one day he will find himself in a major role in motorsport,” Coulthard said.

“He turned down the job of Manor team principal, but it is just a matter of time before big things happen.

“We should also not forget, in the year of his retirement, that Alex scored three podiums in F1, not to mention winning the Le Mans 24 Hours twice. He is a credit to our sport.”

GPDA makes “Ciao Jules” stickers available for drivers in Hungary

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The Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) has announced that it will make a sticker paying tribute to Jules Bianchi available for all drivers racing in this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Bianchi died on Friday night following a nine-month battle against severe head injuries sustained in an accident at last October’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Several Formula 1 drivers attended Bianchi’s funeral in Nice, France on Tuesday, and many will run with tributes to the Frenchman on their cars and helmets this weekend.

As part of this, the GPDA confirmed via its Twitter account that it would be making stickers reading “Ciao Jules – you will always race with us” available for the entire F1 grid in Hungary.

A number of other drivers will also be carrying tributes to Bianchi for the race weekend.

Button becomes GPDA director

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Jenson Button has become a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association following the organisation’s latest meeting.

The GPDA has been the main driver body in Formula One since 1961, working to improve standards of safety, as well as ensuring the sport maintains the interest of the drivers. Maintained and run by the drivers, the GPDA does have significant power within the sport.

There are multiple directors within the GPDA, and Button will join Sebastian Vettel in the role, whilst Felipe Massa, who persuaded Michael Schumacher to rejoin the organisation in 2010, steps down.

Pedro de la Rosa remains chairman, continuing his second term. de la Rosa took up the role in 2008 before stepping down in 2010. However, after the retirement of Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari test driver de la Rosa took up the position once again last season.

Having spent 13 years in Formula One, Button brings a great deal of experience to the role, and he could be in line to become chairman at the end of de la Rosa’s tenure.