Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has joined the growing list of disgruntled members within the paddock, stating he was “horrified” by the sound of the new machines. After a whole raft of technical modifications ahead of the new season, the new 1.6L turbocharged V6 engines offer a vastly different sound in comparison to their 2.4L normally-aspirated V8 predecessors.
Despite the highly entertaining season-opener at Australia, which was eventually won rather dominantly by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, rumours have begun to surface that the Australian Grand Prix organisers have threatened to sue the sport for a breach of contract due to numerous complaints of the new sound, or lack of it, of the new V6 cars. With Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) chairman Ron Walker stating that the new sound was not what the organisers had paid for and that the issue could cause complaints from other race promoters around the world, Bernie Ecclestone has become the latest member of the paddock to vent his frustration at new sound of Formula 1.
“I was not horrified by the noise, I was horrified by the lack of it,” exclaimed Bernie Ecclestone, who has long since been opposed to the sport’s change from V8s to V6s, to Australian newspaper The Age. “Ron [Walker] is right with regards to their contract. And I was sorry to be proved right with what I’ve said all along; these cars don’t sound like racing cars. I’ve been speaking with Jean [Todt] this afternoon and what I’ve said is that we need to see whether there is some way of making them sound like racing cars. I don’t know whether it’s possible but we should investigate. I think let’s get the first few races out of the way and then maybe look to do something. We can’t wait all season. It could be too late by then.”
However, the opening race weekend of the season also highlighted the pros of the new Formula 1 cars, with many drivers including reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel striving to remain in control of his Red Bull. Up and down the paddock mistakes were aplenty throughout the weekend as the 22 drivers got to grips with cars which seemed tougher to drive with an abundance of power, coupled with a renewed lack of downforce. For many this has seen a return of driver skill determining the pecking order, however Ron Walker firmly believes the lack of sound from the new cars could detract from the excitement for the fans. With an old V10 Minardi twin-seater roaring around Albert Park all weekend for VIPs, the distinct lack of noise from the new cars on track was made all the more evident.
“I walk in the botanical gardens and you could hear the sound of the twin-seater F1 car of Paul Stoddart’s sweeping around the circuit, but you couldn’t hear these new turbo cars,” explained Ron Walker. “If you sat in the grandstand, you could hardly hear them coming down the straight. We [the AGPC] are an entertainment company and we have to entertain the public. Everybody was talking about it. When you take the excitement away, you have trouble selling tickets. You have to create demand, and part of that demand is people liking the noise of the race cars. We are resolving that with Bernie. It’s clearly in breach of our contract. I was talking to him last night [Sunday] and it’s not what we paid for. It’s going to change.”
With the Malaysian Grand Prix less than two weeks away, which is back-to-back with the Bahrain Grand Prix, expect the grumblings to ensue with regards to the sound of the new era of Formula 1. However, with the new cars clearly diluting the procession of the past, many others are in favour on the new cars which seem more of a handful to drive than their predecessors and therefore returns a certain skill which the drivers must master to remain at the sharp-end of the pecking order.
Picture(s) Copyright © Octane Photographic & Pirelli Media