F1 drivers in talks to resolve pay disputes but deny strike reports

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Formula One drivers are in talks collectively to try and resolve the issue of unpaid wages but they have ruled out going on strike, some of those affected said on Thursday.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who was at financially-troubled Sauber last season and had problems with his salary, said the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA), effectively their union, had become involved.

“Yes, (in) the GPDA it is a theme at the moment,” the German told reporters on a damp afternoon at the Shanghai International Circuit ahead of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

“We are talking, discussing that issue regarding the unpaid drivers, something which is not good for the sport and the pinnacle of motor-racing. But we’ve never discussed doing a strike.”

Several drivers, including such high profile names as Kimi Raikkonen when he was at Lotus, went without pay last season as Formula One teams up and down the grid found themselves in a precarious financial position.

McLaren‘s Jenson Button, who is chairman of the GPDA, also rejected talk of a possible strike and said drivers would put the interests of the sport first.

“That’s way too much talk,” said the 2009 world champion. “We all love the sport and we won’t do anything to hurt the sport.”

The dispute was thrust into the spotlight last season when Raikkonen told reporters he was leaving Lotus for Ferrari because the former team had not paid him his wages.

Later in the year at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Raikkonen said he had not been paid a single euro all season by a team that ranked among the front runners in 2013 despite suffering cash problems.

On Thursday, the Finn – who is not a member of the GPDA – declined to be drawn on the subject.

“Obviously there was some letter signed but it’s hard to really know what’s going to happen, if it’s going to help or not,” Raikkonen said. “I’m not interested to talk about this.”

However, his former team mate Romain Grosjean, who is still at Lotus, said all issues regarding his pay had been sorted.

“It was certainly not the way I wanted things to go,” the Frenchman said. “I never opened my mouth in front of the media. That was my own business, my personal thing.

“Kimi kind of launched the whole thing, that drivers’ hadn’t been paid and so on. It wasn’t easy for the guys, but things have now been made right.” (Reuters)