The super license fee charged by Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, has sparked further consternation among the drivers after another increase was announced. Previous to 2008, the license, which is required by all competing Formula One drivers, cost just €1,725 plus a further €456 per point earned in the previous championship. In January last year, the price dramatically rose to €10,000 plus €2,000 per point earned. The FIA have now increased the cost to €10,400, plus €2,100 per point and there is now a compulsory insurance charge of €2,720.
In 2008, the drivers were very unhappy about the sudden rise in costs, and although the team’s usually pay for their driver’s licenses, they still demanded to know why the increase had happened. Little reasoning was provided. At the British Grand Prix there was talk of a drivers strike, although nothing came of this and the race went ahead as usual. Now, the FIA have increased the price of the license in line with inflation, but the pilots are still infuriated with the costs and have refused to sign their licenses.
The GPDA have apparently spoken with the FIA have have asked drivers not to sign for their licenses at the moment while they try to reason with the governing body. It is understood that FIA president Max Mosley has agreed to discuss the matter, but wants to know details of the drivers salaries so he can judge what an appropriate fee should be.
In 2008, world champion Kimi Raikkonen saw his license fee increase from €31,365 to €230,000. Current world champion Lewis Hamilton will face a bill of €218,920 (Raikkonen scored more points than Hamilton in his title-winning year). Although the points in 2008 were more evenly shared and therefore most licenses among the top drivers won’t see an increase, if they do exceptional well in 2008, the 2009 license fee could be much larger. Add in likely increases for inflation again, and you can see why the drivers are perhaps feeling a bit angry.
It has been reported by Autosport that the license issue will be addressed at the next FOTA meeting on February 3rd. However, it is also understood that FOTA don’t want to concern themselves too much with the issue as they feel it could inhibit the progress made between themselves and the FIA.
With the FIA determined to reduce costs in the sport in order for it to continue and thrive as well as provide superb racing and a great spectacle, it seems almost contradictory to then charge exorbitant fees to drivers, and to almost discourage the earning of points as the license fee is based on them.
Would it not make better sense to issue a flat fee for the super license, with every driver having to pay the same amount? The funds raised from licenses helps to pay for safety features and marshals at races, which all drivers benefit from equally. Therefore, why should a driver who scores better in races pay more than a driver at the back of the grid; they both benefit from the safety measures, and the points scored doesn’t really come into it.
2009 Super License Costs
|Driver||Points Fee €||Initial Charge €||Insurance €||Total €|
|Nelson Piquet Jr.||39,900||10,400||2,720||53,020|
*assuming these drivers are on the 2009 grid and **minus Coulthard