Spanish F1 driver Fernando Alonso steers his Renault Formula One car during a test session at the racetrack in Jerez de la Frontera, southern Spain, on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Miguel Angel Morenatti)
MADRID (AP) -- FIA president Max Mosley has dismissed the protests from Formula One drivers over increased license fees, saying the well-paid pilots should leave the sport if they don't feel they can afford to race.
In a letter sent to all teams and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, Mosley issued a defiant challenge to the drivers who have objected to the higher fees.
"A driver who does not want, or even cannot afford to pay for, a Formula One super license thus has many alternatives," Mosley wrote in the letter sent out Wednesday. "Apart from Formula One there are a large number of series and championships where a professional racing driver can earn a good, sometimes very good, living."
The protests over the fees started before last season, when the cost for the mandatory F1 licence more than quintupled to $12,800 while the fee drivers have to pay for each championship point earned rose from $612 to $2,566.
For this year, those fees have gone up by another $514 and $128 respectively, and a compulsory insurance charge of $3,500 has also been added. That means top drivers like defending world champion Lewis Hamilton will have to pay nearly $280,000 to compete this year.
While the top drivers reportedly earn up to $26 million a year, the Grand Prix Drivers Association has urged its members not to pay the higher fees while it continues to negotiate with FIA. In his letters, Mosley said he was willing to discuss the issue, but only if drivers released their salary details.
"You will appreciate that we cannot assess hardship unless we have that information," Mosley wrote. "I do hope you will see the fairness of our position and decide to continue to drive in the Formula One World Championship."
Mosley assured that all future license hikes would be in line with inflation and that the sudden rise was necessary to cover escalating safety costs.
"It seems reasonable they should make a tax-deductible contribution to the safety and running of the sport from which they benefit so greatly," Mosley said.
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