MELBOURNE – Australian Grand Prix organizers Monday complained their contract may have been breached with new Formula Ones rules making the cars too quiet, detracting from what fans wanted.
The sport is pushing the boundaries of hybrid technology this year with 2014’s F1 machines running races on 35 percent less fuel than last season.
Turbocharged engines are back for the first time since 1988, with last year’s 2.4-liter V8s replaced by 1.6-liter 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 (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.
“Everybody was talking about it,” he added.
“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.”
Australian Grand Prix chief executive Andrew Westacott agreed with Walker, saying he didn’t even need earplugs in the pit lane.
“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 that they’re going to have to get right,” he said, adding that hardcore racing fans in Europe will likely be even less impressed by the quieter cars.
“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.”
Ecclestone was not immediately available for comment.
Walker on Friday said a new deal to extend the Australian Formula One Grand Prix beyond 2015 had been negotiated, but had yet to signed off by the Victorian state government.
Melbourne has staged the Australian Grand Prix since 1996. The state government has said it wants the race to continue but would make a decision based on value for money.