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Hamilton joins the GPDA // The defending champion signs up to the driver's group

Published by Christine

This article was originally written for BellaOnline, but is republished here for posterity.

In 2008, members of the GPDA were slightly critical of Lewis Hamilton's decision not to join the association. Although at the time, rumours of big arguments appeared to be overstated, it's fair to say there was some pressure on the McLaren driver to sign up.

However, Hamilton didn't feel like he had the experience under his belt to bring anything to the association, and he was in the midst of fighting for his first championship title.

Now that he has successfully achieved that goal (and perhaps because he is unlikely to be able to defend it this year) Hamilton has signed up to the GPDA for the 2009 season.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Assoication began in 1961, and is a union for the drivers to have their say. When it was first created, the GPDA's main goal was to improve safety standards. That is still the case, with the association often putting out a statement if rule changes or situations within F1 are worrying them. The GPDA has a long history, although it was disbanded in the 1980s, and reformed after Ayrton Senna's death in 1994.

A couple of years later, the association became an official company and has offices situated in Monaco. They have always maintained that membership is not a necessity for F1 drivers. However, the more drivers are involved, and the higher their profiles within the sport, the more effective they can be.

There's a small cost to join, and members can elect a President. Currently, McLaren reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa heads the group, and after talking with his teammate Lewis Hamilton, he has persuaded the defending champion to sign up. Hamilton says that this year he feels much more comfortable with the idea of being a member and believes he has plenty to contribute now that he is heading into his third year in the sport.

This makes perfect sense to me, that he would have a lot more to bring to the association now that he has more experience. However, I'm not sure there's any harm being part of the group, even if you are in your first year and don't add too much to proceedings.