The new regulations in Formula One were always going to split opinion. Some feel that they need to be road car relevant and greener in order to attract the big corporations as sponsors and engine manufactures. Other people feel that they should have kept with the old engines as it would save costs and as the pinnacle of Motorsport should maintain its powerful image and noise.
The point that seems to be concerning people more; and filling more column inches than expected is that of the noise. With Bernie Ecclestone saying that the new formula is 'Farcical' and “People loved the excitement of the noise we’d got before. And now I think that’s all disappeared so I'm so disappointed.” the fire is certainly being fuelled. However I really don't understand why the commercial rights holder is making such a song and dance about his product being floored? The product that he is trying to sell to sponsors, circuits, governments and TV companies. This just doesn't make sense. What is he achieving by devaluing the sport he's trying to sell.
Note also that this is Bernie Ecclestone. the guy that sits on the World Motorsport Council and is the chairman of the F1 commission that formulate and ratify the F1 regulations. the same Bernie Ecclestone that could certainly have vetoed these regulations if he had really wanted to. Also Bernie did not attend the first Grand Prix of the year, nor did he attend any of the test days prior to the season so has certainly not heard the sound of these cars 'live'.
Cue the comments by Ron Walker, former Lord Mayor of Melbourne and chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation to Australian newspaper 'The Age'
'I was absolutely delighted with the whole weekend, but I was not too happy with the sound, 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.'
Ron Walker also sat on the F1 commission and has had a say on these regulations being created.
Yet in Melbourne, there have been campaigners every year for the last 19 years, shouting about how the race should be cancelled and its noise is a nuisance, these campaigners have stopped Melbourne taking on a night race (something Bernie has been pushing for years to make the race more convenient for the larger European TV audience). So what about now? Surely the lower decibel noise of these cars is better for the environmentalists, better for the circuit owners and better for the local area?
Yes undoubtedly the noise this year is different. But Formula One, its stakeholders and hierarchy should be selling the positives to the worlds media and the paying public. Isn't it great that we could hear the cheering from the crowd during qualifying? Isn't it great that we could hear the squeals from the tyres as the drivers fought the cars all through the race? Isn't the futuristic sound of the turbo's and energy recovery systems fascinating?
Maybe it will take some getting used to but I personally love it. I love Formula One and this new sound is music to my ears.