Exclusive: F1 warned it is facing fan revolt over 'silent' engines - 'the sound is a disgrace'

New engines are much quieter then previous incarnations

The promoter of the Australian Grand Prix has warned that races will leave Formula One as a result of the quieter V6 engines which have been introduced this year.

The 1.6-litre turbo-charged engines are more environmentally friendly than their 2.4-litre V8 predecessors and were given their first run at the season-opener in Australia earlier this month. They attracted criticism for lacking the high-pitched scream which Formula One has become famous for and the Australian GP chairman, Ron Walker, says it could drive fans away.

“The sound is a disgrace. When the car comes down the straight you can’t even hear it. Now you have got every promoter worried that it’s going to turn fans away,” Walker told The Independent. “ You will find promoters dropping out. They will go and get an IndyCar race or something like that to keep the fans.”

IndyCar, Formula One’s American rival, has single-seater cars with 2.2-litre twin turbo-charged V6 engines. The race hosting fee is nearly a tenth that for Formula One, which comes to £17m every year on average. Last year IndyCar announced that it is planning to add international races by 2015. “We may as well go and buy an IndyCar race for $3.5m [£2.2m]. It would be hugely louder,” says Walker. “It would be a drastic change to switch to IndyCar but we cannot go on like this.”

Walker is also chairman of the Formula One Promoters’ Association, an organisation which represents the 19 races in the calendar, the next of which is this weekend in Malaysia. He has written to Formula One’s chief executive, Bernie Ecclestone, informing him that the promoters will meet at the Bahrain Grand Prix in two weeks to voice their concerns.

“There will be a meeting of all of the promoters and you will find that an enormous voice will come out of that... to say ‘ Bernie, enough is enough. This is not what we bought.’”

The Australian Grand Prix could be the first casualty of the new engines, which are the centrepiece of a green agenda developed by Jean Todt, the president of Formula One’s governing body, the FIA.

Walker’s race contract expires after next year’s event. “We haven’t signed a new contract with Bernie, so this is going to put a lot of pressure on the FIA,” he said. “It doesn’t have the right to destroy this sport. It will ruin the sport that Bernie built over this. Out of any single problem, this is the one that will kill the golden goose. It is hard enough to sell tickets now but this is arrogance at the worst from Jean Todt.”

Walker added that action may have to be taken before next year and this could result in a damages claim against Ecclestone. “We can’t just sit back and wait. There’s a strong wind blowing here. Legal action would not be very difficult. Bernie is clearly in breach of his contract because this is not what we bought. I didn’t buy a wimp. Originally, I bought a giant with noise. Bernie even suggested in a meeting a few years ago in Geneva the promoter would have the right to sue him.”

Ecclestone has opposed the engines since they were approved by the FIA in 2011 and has said: “If Ron Walker chose to terminate his contract I would think our chances of succeeding if we sued him would not be good. He is saying that when they signed the contract to buy Formula One it was what it was and now it is different. I’ve never been happy with these new engines.”

In 2011 Ecclestone told The Independent he was prepared to sue the FIA if races leave because of the new engines. “They have got a contract with me and if they can’t honour it, because they aren’t selling any tickets, I probably wouldn’t hold them to it,” he said, adding that Formula One “may have to sue the FIA” because the decision to introduce the engines breached his contract with the governing body.

“We did a survey of the fans and they don’t really care about saving fuel,” Walker said. “They want to go and see gladiatorial drivers fighting each other and not worry about the fuel that they use.”

Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing