Australian GP officials say quieter F1 cars may be breach of contract
Australian officials say the quieter cars may be a breach of contract and is not what F1 fans want
Agence France-Presse in Melbourne
Australian Grand Prix organisers yesterday complained their contract may have been breached with new Formula Ones rules making the cars too quiet, detracting from what fans wanted.
The sport is pushing the boundaries of hybrid technology this year with 2014's F1 machines running races on 35 per cent less fuel than last season.
Turbocharged engines are back for the first time since 1988, with last year's 2.4-litre V8s replaced by 1.6-litre V6s.
But Australian Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker, while delighted with the overall success of Sunday's season-opening event won by Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes, said the lack of noise was not what fans expected.
"I was absolutely delighted with the whole weekend, but I was not too happy with the sound," he told Fairfax radio, adding that if one sat in the grandstand one could hardly hear the cars coming down the home straight.
"We are resolving that with Bernie [Ecclestone]. It's clearly in breach of our contract.
"I was talking to him 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.
"Everybody was talking about it," he added.
"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 racing cars."
Australian Grand Prix chief executive Andrew Westacott agreed with Walker, saying he didn't even need earplugs in the pit lane.
"One aspect of it was just a little bit duller than it's ever been before and that's part of the mix and the chemistry that they're going to have to get right," he said, adding that hardcore Formula One fans in Europe will likely be even less impressed by the quieter engines.
"We pay for a product, we've got contracts in place, we are looking at those very, very seriously because we reckon there has probably been some breaches," he said.
Walker on Friday said a new deal to extend the Australian Formula One Grand Prix beyond 2015 had been negotiated, but had yet to be signed off by the Victoria state government.
Melbourne has staged the Australian Grand Prix since 1996. The state government has said it wanted the race to continue but would make a decision based on value for money.