The Grand Prix Drivers' Association, also known as the GPDA, was formed in 1961 as a way for Formula 1 drivers to come together and represent their interests within the sport. The organization was originally created in response to a number of tragic accidents and fatalities that had occurred in the early years of Formula 1.
One of the most notable accidents was the death of the British driver Stuart Lewis-Evans at the 1958 Moraccan Grand Prix. This event was a turning point that led to the formation of the GPDA, as the driver realized the need for a unified voice to represent their interests and push for better safety measures in the sport.
The first president of the GPDA was British driver, Mike Hawthorn's team mate, Jack Brabham, who was joined by the Vice-President Phil Hill. The two were joined by a board of directors composed of other prominent drivers at the time such as John Surtees, Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren, and Dan Gurney. Since then, many notable drivers have held the position of president of GPDA such as Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda and most recently Sebastian Vettel.
Over the years, the GPDA has played a key role in improving safety in Formula 1. The organization has worked closely with the FIA, the governing body of Formula 1, to push for improved safety measures at race tracks, such as better barriers and improved medical facilities. The GPDA also played a key role in the introduction of safety features such as the HANS device, which is designed to protect drivers from head and neck injuries.
The GPDA has also been involved in other issues that affect drivers and teams such as negotiation and agreements between teams and the FIA. The organization also has been involved in discussions related to the regulations and rules of the sport, to make sure they are suitable and fair for drivers.
The GPDA has played an important role in the history of Formula 1. The organization was formed out of a need to improve safety and representation for drivers, and has since become an integral part of the sport. Today, GPDA is still active and continues to play an important role in representing the drivers' interests, pushing for better safety measures and being a voice of reason in the sport. Its presence is vital to the development of the sport and its direction, making sure that the drivers' opinions and safety concerns are heard, understood and respected.