SILENCE MAY be golden, but not if you’re a Formula One promoter trying to sell tickets to race fans who expect to be deafened.
Ron Walker, chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation is threatening to sue the organisers of last weekend’s race for breach of contract over the much quieter sound of the racing cars’ turbocharged V6 engines, new this season. The promoter is worried that the new engine’s quieter sound, likened by race fans to a leaf blower, could affect sales of tickets at future Grands Prix.
“You couldn’t hear these new turbo cars,” he said. “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.”
Recently, Driving reported F1 fans’ concerns over the new, quieter engines. After Mercedes released a video of its pre-season testing, viewers flocked to online forums to register their disapproval. Typical of the comments was: “F1 has gone limp in the wrist,” and, “Sounds like a fancy [Toyota] Corolla.”
In the wake of last Sunday’s race, former Australian Test cricketer Dean Jones tweeted, “They sounded like golf carts.”
Ecclestone himself may be forgiven for allowing himself a “told you so” moment. He and race team Ferrari opposed the new engine regulations which require new, smaller V6 engines coupled to more potent energy recovery systems, from the start.
“I was horrified by the lack of noise and I was sorry to be proved right with what I’ve said all along: these cars don’t sound like racing cars.”
In an attempt to appease race fans and other race promoters, the F1 boss has met Jean Todt, the president of FIA, F1’s governing body, to explore ways of making the new engines noisier. “I don’t know whether it’s possible, but we should investigate, he said.