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Ecclestone: 2014 engines may be fitted with sound enhancers

NEWS STORY
02/04/2013

This time next year Formula One will be using 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engines after dropping the current 2.4 litre V8s. The new regulations have been set in stone for some time but that hasn't stopped them changing repeatedly and F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that there may be more modifications to come.

The new regulations were first announced by FIA in December 2010 and at that time the replacement was due to be a four-cylinder, 1.6-litre turbocharged engine. It faced immediate criticism over fears that it would sound so different to the current engines that it would drive fans away. Ecclestone was so concerned that he revealed to Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt that he "may have to sue the FIA." He believed the decision to introduce the new engines breached his contract with the governing body and he had plenty of support.

In June 2011 Pitpass revealed that F1's race organisers had taken the historic step of forming a union - the Formula One Promoters Association - and its chairman Ron Walker promptly threatened to switch to IndyCar if the engine sound changes in 2014. The following month the FIA improved the specification to the turbocharged V6s but yet another change was still to come.

The technical regulations originally required the V6 engines to run on electric power only in the pitlane but Pitpass also revealed that this too was opposed by Ecclestone who said it would be dangerous if cars could not be heard approaching. Finally, in November last year, FIA president Jean Todt confirmed that the introduction of electric power in the pitlane "will be delayed for around three years." There may be more to come.

In February, giving an example of how F1 can be self-destructive, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said "every other weekend we seem to say 'shall we really go V6 or shall we stay with V8s?'" The manufacturers are set on them and are adamant that the sound of the new engines will not harm F1's appeal. Ecclestone isn't so sure. In a telephone interview he told Sylt that the only way to guarantee this may be to artificially adjust the tone of the V6s.

Writing in US magazine Autoweek, Sylt quotes Ecclestone saying "maybe we can make them sound like the current engines." It certainly isn't his first choice and the race organisers also aren't in favour of it.

Walker adds that in 2011 "Todt told me in Australia that the next thing is they are going to have a hybrid. I said what about the noise and he said they will put a squeak box on the back of the car. God almighty!"

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