Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said he will try to make new-look machines sound “more like racing cars” after organisers of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix threatened to sue for breach of contract.
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 he paid for or what the 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 you sat in the grandstand you 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 last 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.
“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.”
Ecclestone, in comments carried by British media on Tuesday, said: “I was not horrified by the noise, I was horrified by the lack of it.
“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, president of the FIA, Formula One’s governing body) 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.”
The 83-year-old Englishman added he’d had “one or two promoters get in touch with me and they said how unhappy they are”.
Ecclestone added: “I spoke to (Ferrari president) Luca di Montezemolo just now and Luca said he’s never had as many emails complaining and saying this isn’t Formula One.”