According to the outspoken Australian Ron Walker, his fellow F1 promoters will speak with “an enormous voice” next week in Bahrain.
Walker, fiercely critical of the quieter sound of the sport’s new turbo V6 engines, also heads an F1 promoters’ alliance, and he has called a meeting ahead of the forthcoming grand prix in the island Kingdom. According to the Independent newspaper and F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, he tips the promoters to tell “Bernie (Ecclestone), enough is enough. This is not what we bought’.”
However, one of Walker’s fellow promoters is unlikely to be joining the chorus. Razlan Razali, the boss of the Malaysian grand prix venue at Sepang, is not among those who are denouncing the new sound, insisting F1 remains “amazing”. “Even the quieter engines, which goes against what many have been expecting in motor sport previously, might not entirely be a bad thing,” he told the New Straits Times. “Parents should now be less afraid of bringing their children to races with the reduced noise levels.”
And Razali said F1’s new technology, producing higher top speeds with less noise and fuel, is impressive. “You see a small engine still able to produce 750 horse power and clock laptimes almost as fast as the V8s did last year, so it is just amazing how far technology has advanced,” he insisted. Nonetheless, Ecclestone and even FIA president Jean Todt are reported to be making moves to spice up the sound.
Franck Montagny, a former F1 driver turned French television pundit, acknowledged the issue. “For the public, when they go and see the GP2 cars race on the same weekend and they’re louder, it will seem like they are faster as well. So there is something wrong,” he is quoted by Le Figaro. The Telegraph newspaper reports that the Ecclestone-run Formula One Management is already “looking at where they position the microphones” around the tracks “to optimise the sound for television”. And some actual tweaks to the cars to make the engine note louder are also possible.
But Sam Collins, an editor of the Racecar Engineering magazine, is sceptical. “The concept of these engines means it’s quite difficult to redesign them to make them louder because you have the turbo sucking all the noise out,” he is quoted by the Guardian. “So you would have to go for a complete rulebook change and that would take two or three years to introduce and would be hugely expensive and basically teams would stamp their feet and say no,” Collins added.
Montagny disagrees. “I think there will be a change this season,” he said. “Technically, it is not even very difficult to do so. “There are already methods being used to allow electric cars to make more noise in order to avoid incidents with pedestrians. “You could also intervene by putting in a second exhaust, but there will be no miracles,” he warned. “These engines are 1.6 litres — the era of the V10 and V8 is over.”