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Australian Grand Prix: Ecclestone warns quieter F1 could be costly

Bernie Ecclestone says the new sound of F1 engines could hit teams financially, but is warned issue could take a year to fix.
Bernie Ecclestone railed against the introduction of F1's new engine formula from the very start, and now he has reason to believe that his opposition was justified.

The 83-year old head of the sport initially campaigned against the turbocharged V6 powerplants – and their associated hybrid energy technology – on the grounds of cost to the teams but, following complaints about the noise – or lack of it – that they produced at last weekend's Australian Grand Prix, he was quick to point to other shortfalls.

F1 2014-style is a lot quieter, with a throaty growl replacing the wailing scream of the V10 and V8 eras and, while those intimately involved with the sport have other issues to concentrate on, casual observers and those with less invested in the sport have not held back with their criticism.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker said that he was prepared to take F1 to task over what he felt was a reduction in aural spectacle, despite being happy with the way the Melbourne event has passed off.

"I was absolutely delighted with the whole weekend, but I was not too happy with the sound," Walker told the local Melbourne Age newspaper, "I walked in the botanical gardens and you could hear the sound of the twin-seater F1 car of Paul Stoddart sweeping around the circuit, but you couldn't hear these new turbo cars. If you sat in the grandstand, you could hardly hear them coming down the straight. It's clearly in breach of our contract.

"We 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. I was talking to him [Sunday] night and it's not what we paid for. It's going to change. He's horrified about it. It will be an issue for all promoters all round the world."

Ecclestone, meanwhile, suggested that Walker's comments needed to be taken with a pinch of salt, but emphasised that he had already warned against the introduction of the new engines.

“I was sorry to be proved right with what I've said all along; these cars don't sound like racing cars,” he told the Age, “I've been speaking with [FIA president] Jean [Todt] 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."

In a separate interview with Reuters, Ecclestone admitted that Walker was not the only promoter to express a concern and conceded that, regardless of the terms of the Australian GP contract, there were perhaps other obligations to meet.

"I've had one or two [promoters] get in touch and they said how unhappy they are,” he revealed, “I spoke to [Ferrari president] Luca di Montezemolo just now and he said he's never had as many emails on his desk complaining and saying this isn't F1.

“Let's assume [Walker] hasn't got a point as far as the legal side is going. Then you have to look at it from a moral side. If you went into the supermarket today and bought some strawberry jam and you got peanut butter you'd probably be a bit pissed off. Whether the contract describes what he'd bought, the strawberry jam with so many strawberries, I don't know. I doubt it. I think he bought the FIA Formula One World Championship - which is what he's got."

While admitting that the situation wasn't at crisis point after one race, Ecclestone couldn't resist poking the teams who helped shape the new formula.

"If the promoters say 'this ain't what I bought and I ain't going to pay for it' or 'I don't want to pay as much' or whatever, then it is a concern,” he warned, "We give the teams a percentage of the revenue we receive so, if we are receiving less revenue, certainly the teams wouldn't get as much. It's going to cost them."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis, however, warned that making the necessary changes to improve the sound of the cars would not be the work of a moment.

“We can address the sound ..... but give us time for change,” he told BBC Radio's Chris Evans Breakfast Show, “F1 regulations are complex things and, if we change too quickly, all we're going to do is ruin the racing – and the racing is quite good.

“An exhaust system is like a musical instrument, just like a trombone – if you extend the trombone, then the note changes and exhaust systems are exactly the same. So you don't want a lot of back pressure on the turbochargers, so you have a very large tailpipe and that gives you a very bassy note. More revs are the solution but, for that, we need bigger fuel tanks and that means a regulation change for next season.

“To do something that's effective [it will take that long]. You can fine-tune as always, but we've got to be realistic. It has taken over two-and-a-half years to develop the engines for this formula, and it's not just a question of changing the noise, you've got to change many other parameters to get it right and revs means a completely engine configuration and that's going to take time.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
13.03.2014- Ron Dennis (GBR), McLaren Mercedes and Eric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director.
Renault’s Energy F1-2014 V6 turbo
15.03.2013- Free Practice 1, Ron Walker (AUS) Chairman of the Australian GP Corporation
14.03.2014- Free Practice 1, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB10
24.11.2013 - Race, Pasquale Lattuneddu (ITA), FOM and Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula One Management
16.03.2014- Race, Start of the race, Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR9
22.10.2016 - Grid Girl
22.10.2016 - Grid Girl
22.10.2016 - Grid Girl
22.10.2016 - Grid Girl
22.10.2016 - Grid Girls
22.10.2016 - Grid Girls
22.10.2016 - Grid Girls
22.10.2016 - Grid Girls
22.10.2016 - Grid Girls
22.10.2016 - Grid Girls
22.10.2016 - Grid Girls
22.10.2016 - Chase Carey (USA) Formula One Group Chairman

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March 18, 2014 12:31 PM

On another F1 site this morning some alleged F1 journalist was mouthing off that anyone who complains about new F1 isn't a well informed F1 fan like him and is in fact being nostalgic and comparing new F1 to their preferred era (which in his case was Dhill, says it all really) It's simply not true, I'm not against the new technology, the cars are interesting and a bit of a handful to drive which is great but they are far too quiet, not compared to a flat 12 or a V10 but compared to an F1 car! As I explained to the "F1 journalist" if you went to a rock concert and they turned the amps down by 50% it might be the same music, same musicians and same musicianship but without the sensory overload the experience just wouldn't be the same and saying "yeah but our amps are using less power now" would be scant consolation!


March 18, 2014 11:43 AM

I am so pleased that this incredibly important facet of Formula 1 is not being brushed under the carpet. The noise IS an intrinsic part of the spectacle and ultimately that is what Formula 1 has always been, a sensory event. As I've posted before, having been to dozens of brand Prix over the last decade and witnesses V10s, V8s I can tell you that these engines are completely underwhelming. For those of you who haven't witnessed the howl of sound that USED to fill the air anywhere with a mile or two of the track you just won't get near the same experience by hearing these cars, it's quite a souless feeling to be honest. Bernie is absolutely correct about revenue. This year may be ok but come next hear, people simply won't go back to the tracks again. I pray they sort this out sooner than later, Formula 1 without noise is just not the spectacle it needs to be.

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