Organisers of the Australian grand prix are furious with F1’s new low volume.
Even some of the sport’s stalwarts were alarmed in Melbourne when the 22 cars purred towards the first corner in Melbourne on Sunday. “At first I said ‘Just take out your earplugs, it’s the same as before’,” triple world champion Lauda told the German broadcaster RTL. “But I have to honestly say I was slightly disappointed today on television, especially at the start. Simply something was missing,” he added. “Before, it (the sound) was right down to the marrow. We need to get used to it but it has lost some of its attraction,” said Lauda.
World champion Sebastian Vettel said driving in Melbourne felt more like being at the wheel of “a vacuum cleaner than a racing car”. F1’s most experienced active driver Jenson Button is also worried, especially after a V10-equipped demonstration car did laps at Albert Park at the weekend. “Oh my god I miss that,” he said. “It sounded amazing. Those were great years for the sound of the engine, but that is no more.” Most in the F1 paddock are disappointed, but Australian Grand Prix corporation chief executive Andrew Andrew Westcott has revealed he is actually angry. “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 told Fairfax Radio on Monday.
But Lauda, who is dominant Mercedes’ F1 chairman, said it would be wrong to tinker with the engine rules just because the sport is now quieter. “Everyone wants to do something about it, but you can’t just change the exhaust pipe, you’d have to redevelop the whole engine and the mapping,” he said. “That’s just way too expensive. “Please do not change the engines just to make a bit more noise,” he exclaimed.