Australian Grand Prix: Bernie Ecclestone 'horrified' at quiet new F1 cars, with Melbourne organisers claiming lack of sound is 'breach of contract'
The season opening race was entertaining, but much quieter than previous races
Monday 17 March 2014
Australian Grand Prix chief Ron Walker has described Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone as being “horrified” at the sport's new quieter era - which could lead to a legal challenge.
Although the arrival of the new 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged power units produced an entertaining season-opening race at Melbourne's Albert Park on Sunday, the noise level failed to impress.
The screaming sound of the old V8 engine has gone, and in its place is a huskier decibel level, complete with whistles and whirrs from the turbo.
It is a sound Ecclestone knew long ago would not be right for F1, even before the first car hit the track in testing in January.
Now Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) chairman Walker, a close friend of Ecclestone, has made his feelings plain to the 83-year-old, to such an extent he is checking the small print in the contracts between the two to see what recourse he may have.
"I was absolutely delighted with the whole weekend, but I was not too happy with the sound," said Walker, speaking to Melbourne newspaper The Age.
"We are resolving that with Bernie. It's clearly in breach of our contract. I was talking to him last night (Sunday) 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.
"I walk in the botanical gardens and you could hear the sound of the twin-seater F1 car of Paul Stoddart's sweeping around the circuit, but you couldn't hear these new turbo cars.
"If you sat in the grandstand you could hardly hear them coming down the straight.
"We (the Grand Prix Corporation) are an entertainment company and we have to entertain the public.
"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."
The current contract for the race expires after next year's event, with the Victoria state government, who pays for it, yet to sign an extension, although there is one in the pipeline.
Despite that, AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott expressed his own misgivings about the lack of noise, as outlined by Walker.
"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 they're going to have to get right," Westacott told Australia's Fairfax Radio.
"Ron spoke to Ecclestone after the race and said the fans don't like it in the venue.
"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."
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