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Australian GP organisers slam F1's lack of aural sex


Organisers of the Australian Grand Prix are less than happy with the new sound of F1, to the point of seeking legal action.

After months of anticipation, yesterday the litmus test for the sport, the first time the sound off all twenty-two new era engines were heard blasting away from the grid - well, nineteen actually, three cars needed to start from the pitlane.

With little to judge based on pre-season testing, fans only really got their first 'taste' of the new sound of the sport on Friday, when the opening practice sessiosn got underway. Despite the best efforts of broadcasters and team bosses insisting that it was great and the fans would get used to it, the fans - aka the paying public - were largely unimpressed.

Granted, on Saturday it afforded TV viewers the opportunity to enjoy the pantomime style reactions of the crowd as - above the sound of the engines - could be heard the jeering of Vettel, the roar as Ricciardo took provisional pole and the subsequent sigh of despair as Hamilton went quicker.

However, the sight of broadcasters interviewing various inhabitants of Planet Paddock during the sessions without the need to shout over the top of the engines, the experience of hearing (trackside commentator) Bob Constanduros keeping the crowd up to date, almost drowning out the V6s, fulfilled our worst fears.

Bernie Ecclestone was never a fan of the new formula, fearing it would turn off fans, indeed, he even stalled its introduction. At the same time, a group of circuit owners, led by his close friend, and head of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC), Ron Walker formed the Formula One Promoters Association in readiness for just such an occasion.

Speaking to Fairfax radio the day after the race, AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott made it clear that he is not happy, far from it.

"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. "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," he continued, "we are looking at those very, very seriously because we reckon there has probably been some breaches."

Organisers are already under pressure in the Victoria state due to the ever increasing amounts of tax payer money that is being pumped into the event, and while the noise - or lack of it - will please those who complain about the disruption the ‘aural pollution’ the event brings to the city, others will fear that the lack of aural spectacle will drive away the fans and increase the losses.

The fact that the current contract runs out next year gives the AGPC a little bargaining power but in all honesty it is hard to see what can be done.

On the other hand, the crowd went home happy, having seen Vettel retire just a few laps into the race and his new teammate, Australian Daniel Ricciardo take second on his debut with the world championship winning team.

However, six hours later....

As a side note, many hours after the race, whilst enjoying a well-deserved pint of Abbot Ale, a certain F1 website editor received the following email for an old school-friend.

"I want to say this from a fans point of view of the Melbourne race," wrote Peter M. "I think I am at the end of my tether with F1. Remember it all started with me you and John P getting a Green Line bus to Brands Hatch in god knows what year. At which point I became hooked by the noise of the McLaren for a lifetime..."

Indeed, though the sport has gone through many changes since those days (very early 70s), but it always had that certain sound.

Chris Balfe


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1. Posted by AKS, 24/03/2014 8:15

"Was there and have not missed a Gp in Australia since it began in Adelaide then it was v6 turbo 1000 plus screaming hp loved them loved the V12 V10 & V8's. this new era is not F1 it's not what anyone wants shit
i now street cars that sound tougher, when DC ran around in the 2010 red bull my 11 going on 12 yr old daughter says dad i miss that sound, i say honey so do i so does the rest of the world. the Australian gp
is a street track cocooned in concrete which always makes it louder imagine what the rest of the world says when there at the old school tracks ( you will here nothing) be prepared for the worse.

such a shame F1 you really got this wrong!

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2. Posted by speedphotos, 21/03/2014 1:26

"With all of the turmoil over the new sound of F1 no one seems to be bothered that "coasting" has become a legitimate racing term. While I understand the PR aspect of going (slightly) green my disappointment is that we are not watching cars and drivers at the maximum possible speed during their two hour event. One must now go to Le Mans to see "real" full-time racing. And as to going green, one must look no further than the event's parking lots to see the real fuel usage attached to the race let alone the aircraft that fly the cars around the world. My personal opinion is that F1 has lost the plot."

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3. Posted by Ludovico, 20/03/2014 0:10

"I went once to a race with my daughter then 22, who I invited when my brother couldn't come with me. She knew I was a true fan since I was 12 (now I'm 65, I'm sorry), but wouldn't have attended but because she loved me –as she still does– and knew I was upset and sad because my brother failed, and besides she wanted to learn what was this so strange thing for her that moved me so much (she is a dancer and yoga teacher, you see). Well, we went to the first practice to a far tribune but it was raining heavy and no car was out, until suddenly, as the rain stopped a while, a heroic Simtek went out for a lap. When it approached us, full of noise, she stared at me and shouted: Now I know, now I understand –it's for the noise, isn't it? "

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4. Posted by 6wheeler, 18/03/2014 21:02

"1974, Canadian Grand Prix, security was almost nil, compared todays races. Saturday night, standing in the garage, they actually had a walkway the length of the building with pit stalls on both sides of the walkway. Myself and 2 other drunkards standing no more than 10 feet from the back of a Ferrari as the Italian mechanics blipped the throttle to full rpm. I have been hard of hearing ever since. The sound was a huge part of being there. I think it will always be a part of attending a F1 event, just different that's all. "

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5. Posted by F One, 18/03/2014 18:38

"I think this obsession with the sound of F1 cars is completely absurd."

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6. Posted by TheHillsHaveEyes, 18/03/2014 15:39

"I found a fix for the sound of the new F1 cars, I recorded the sound my sons remote control car makes looped it for 90 mins, mixed it with the sound of next doors cats have a good time, then played it at full volume through my sound bar. not only did it sound better than the F1 cars on screen it stopped me from falling asleep.

On the other hand the FIA have found a cure for insomnia that the NHS haven't thought of F1zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"

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7. Posted by Renone, 18/03/2014 12:01

"Watching the race at home I fell asleep. I suppose if I had attended I would also have slept through it.
As a schoolboy I also took the Green Line bus to Brands where I experienced F1 for the first time. The day still is clear in my mind. The unbelievable noise and thunder like sound as the cars went through the gears, standing down towards Pilgrims drop seeing them at full pace with the ground shaking noise vibrating through my body . Accelerating with the rears sliding out of Druids. I am glad I witnessed this. Yes I am all for progress but not change for the sake of change. F1 for the spectator is about spectacle, bombarding the senses with a huge proportion being about the noise. F1 has taken a wrong turn in pandering to the Green Lobby. F1 should be raw, exciting and relatively unrestricted if it is to maintain spectator interest. "

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8. Posted by ratchet69, 18/03/2014 10:22

"Denied the visuals, because of Sky, and having only the BBC radio commentary, I was gobsmacked to hear the sound of F1 2014 for the first time. A 50cc moped makes more noise going down our street.

This is not F1 as it should be, This is whacky races for the tree huggers and it is now a complete joke! Save the tyres, save fuel, save the planet, get stuffed!

If they were worried about the viewing figures for last year wait until they see the this year's figures. In fact, because it was so awful to listen to, I forgot to watch the highlights on the BBC, That's one less viewer already and I won't be setting an alarm to listen to the Malaysian GP either.

Formula One was always about being the fastest man and car combination on the day. It was the pinnacle of motor sport. The FIA should not have tried to dull the sparkle of the jewel in it's crown and turn F1 green.

On the subject of noise how much will the spectators be paid (not a typo) to attend the Formula E races. They surely don't expect fans of proper motor racing to pay big bucks to go and see (and only to see) almost silent electric cars whispering along the city streets. If you have, like Andrew Westacott above, trouble hearing the new F1 cars coming, you will not hear them at all. "

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9. Posted by The stogie, 18/03/2014 1:30

"I tuned in to watch an F1 race and instead I got a 'club race' using lawn mower engines!! Bernie was so right when he poo-pooed the new specifications. This is the biggest step back the series has ever pulled off. Sad. "

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10. Posted by phantom, 17/03/2014 23:34

"The key is Mr. Westacott's statement: "One aspect of it was just a little bit duller than it's ever been before. . ." This presupposes (correctly) F1 is now 'dull.'"

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11. Posted by Spartacus, 17/03/2014 22:29

"I would have to say the new era of F1 "Power Units" have definitely changed the sounds we are used to. But overall this is a new spec which will continue to evolve. Short term people are not liking what they used to like but long term the new specifications will produce some awesome combinations that will surprise us all. This is F1 and I am sure they have built some fudge room for more power in the Turbo and M/K ERS areas. Once they get a handle on it and are back to the same lap times and below, It will be something to watch as it is now!"

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12. Posted by markscottuk, 17/03/2014 18:29

"Why cant they put wireless Mics near the engines of the cars or on the track perimeter to capture the sound?"

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13. Posted by TKOF1, 17/03/2014 17:24

"I reserved judgement until I watched the race about the noise, and I have to sahy that the sound of F1 is gone. BRING BACK THE SOUND OF F1!! completely unimpressive! My girlfriend who was not a fan until I brought her to the Austin GP said that she only became a fan when she heard the old V8's sound. She is completely turned off by the new cars. "

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14. Posted by jasman, 17/03/2014 16:32

"I certainly remember the V12 3L Ferrari, Matra, and BRMs at Spa in 1970. Those cars literally vibrated your ribs when approaching Eau Rouge. You have to experience it in person."

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15. Posted by Natcheztoo, 17/03/2014 16:11


What has happened to F1 was all too obvious:

3.0 Liter engines of various types > V10's > V8's > V6's (itty, bitty engines). What is next? Let them devolve to Carts. I won't tag along.

F*** the Euro-Green-Enviromentalist-freaks. Let F1 be the loudest, most powerful racing venue on the planet - like it is supposed to be. Heck, at this rate the Indy Cars will be as fast as F1.


Jerry Krouse"

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