When was the last time the F1 drivers threatened to go on strike at a grand prix? What happened and did they eventually race?
A meeting on Friday night in Jeddah between the 20 Formula 1 drivers led to speculation that they could be about to refuse to race in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
A missile fired by a rebel group hit an Aramco oil depot about seven miles from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, with the drivers locked into talks early on Saturday morning local time among themselves.
Eventually, the decision was taken that they would continue on with the race weekend.
The GPDA meeting brought back memories of the last time the F1 drivers went on strike nearly 40 years ago.
But what actually happened the last time the F1 drivers went on strike? Did they eventually race?
Last F1 drivers strike
The 1982 Formula 1 season is one of the more memorable in the history of the championship.
11 drivers won from the 16 races, teams boycotted races, and Keke Rosberg (father of Nico) won the title for Williams having won just once.
At the season-opening South African Grand Prix in January 1982, the F1 drivers went on strike over conditions governing body FISA (think today’s FIA) wanted to impose on them.
Essentially, FISA wanted to hand control of driver contracts to the teams themselves.
This would mean drivers could not negotiate a better deal for themselves elsewhere, the teams being able to sell their drivers to other squads.
Understandably, some drivers were furious at the proposal, and as a result, the F1 drivers went on strike ahead of the race.
The ring-leaders were Niki Lauda – returning from three years away from F1 after McLaren lured him back, and Ferrari’s Didier Pironi – who stayed at the track throughout what was to come to act as a go-between.
What happened next?
Instead of driving the Kyalami circuit in practice, the drivers were driven to a local hotel on-board a coach put on by the GPDA.
FISA and the team principals, including one Bernie Ecclestone threatened to sack and replace their drivers to force them to come back – to no avail as the posse of drivers had barricaded themselves into the hotel.
The drivers entertained themselves during the first F1 strike with the likes of Gilles Villeneuve and Elio de Angelis on the piano (to varying degrees of success, de Angelis showing Villeneuve how it was done), and Lauda on a comedy routine.
Eventually, FISA relented and the conditions around the super licences was kicked down the South African road.
Alain Prost won for Renault after a mid-race puncture with Carlos Reutemann and Rene Arnoux joining the Frenchman on the podium.
In other news, Meet Jenson Button’s wife as he joins the Sky F1 commentary team