Trouble brewing over 'quiet' F1 cars

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IOL mot pic mar17 F1 Melbourne Start AFP Australian Grand Prix Corporation bosses say the screaming of high-revving engines, particularly at the start, is part of the Formula One package and that they pay for that sound. Picture: Saeed Khan

Melbourne, Australia - The organisers of the Australian Grand Prix have complained to Formula One commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone about the quieter V6-powered cars - on the grounds that their reduced volume may have breached race contracts with Formula One management.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott told Fairfax radio on Monday that chairman Ron Walker had already expressed his misgivings to Ecclestone.

Westacott said the quieter cars had taken something away from the F1 spectacle for fans at the race.

He said on air: “That aspect of it was just a little bit duller than it's ever been before; it’s part of the mix and the chemistry that they're going to have to get right.

“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.”

The season-opening Grand Prix in Melbourne raised the curtain on F1's technological revolution, which includes new turbocharged hybrid engines.

Some pundits have bemoaned the quieter cars, saying they preferred the more robust noise of the previous V8 engines.

Team principals of the major F1 outfits shrugged off the change at Albert Park, saying fans would get used to it.

Formula One management was unable to provide immediate comment. The Singapore office of private equity group CVC Capital, the largest shareholder in Formula One, declined to comment and referred enquiries to their London office, which was closed.

Australia's Victoria state government has yet to sign an extension to the Grand Prix contract, which expires in 2015.

Walker said this week that the Australian Grand Prix Corporation had hammered out a new deal with F1 management to keep the race in Melbourne. but it needed to be signed off by the state government.

A Victoria government minister in charge of tourism and major events said the government wanted to keep the race and that only cost would be a consideration. She said there was “no rush” to sign, though.

Recent races have cost Victoria taxpayers more than $50 million (R480 million) a year.


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