(Reuters) - Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg enjoyed dinner and a dig at the sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone on Wednesday as drivers put on another show of unity before Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver posted a picture on Twitter of himself and 17 other drivers dining together in Shanghai with the accompanying comment: “#racingunited or in Bernie’s words #windbagsunited.”
The German was alluding to Ecclestone’s comments at the previous Bahrain Grand Prix, where he was asked by reporters whether he felt the drivers were ‘windbags’ for issuing an open letter calling for improved governance.
“Some of them are,” Ecclestone had replied, suggesting they were powerless and just doing the bidding of their teams.
The 85-year-old also complained that the drivers “don’t even pay the bill” when he has dinner with them and suggested they focus on driving.
“They shouldn’t even be allowed to talk,” the Briton had said. “They should get in the car and drive it.”
The letter, issued by the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) last month, was a rare intervention by a body that represents most, but not all, of those on the Formula One starting grid.
They had said at the time that they had wanted to show a united stance out of concern that rule changes were making the sport less exciting for the fans and for participants themselves.
One big grievance of the drivers has been resolved for China, with Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt back-tracking on previous opposition and agreeing to scrap a new qualifying format that had been declared a failure by fans and teams.
Formula One will now revert to the 2015 qualifying format.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis