Organisers of the Australian Grand Prix have threatened legal action against Formula One management over a seemingly peculiar issue: the lack of engine noise at this year’s race.
Attendees of this year’s Australian Grand Prix, who are traditionally treated to the high-pitched banshee wail of 2.4 litre V-8 engines, were left wanting by the muted tones of this year’s new 1.6 litre turbocharged V-6 hybrid power plants.
According to SkySports, Australian Grand Prix Corporation Chief Executive Andrew Westacott made it clear that the lack of noise has reduced the spectacle of the event by taking away a visceral element of the fan experience.
“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,” said Westacott amid fan criticisms of this year’s race.
The Australian Grand Prix, which marked the beginning of the 2014 Formula One season, drew back the curtains on F1’s latest technological revolution. The 2014 engine formula eschews the raw power of the previous 8 cylinder motor in favour of the fuel efficiency of 6 cylinder turbo powerplants. However, the greatest change is the addition of a new energy recovery system, or ERS.
Engineers have traditionally viewed the heat and noise that emanate from vehicles as forms of wasted energy. In response, Formula One introduced the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, or KERS, in 2009 to turn braking energy into electricity. This year, engineers added a new ERS to harness the thermal energy of exhaust gases and transform it into extra juice to power the car. The unfortunate downside of this innovative system is the muffling of Formula One’s trademark ear-shattering roar.
The Australian Grand Prix is held annually in the Albert Park suburb of Melbourne. The current contract for the race is set to expire in 2015, with no sign of a contract extension in sight. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, recent races have cost taxpayers around $US45 million annually.
The 2014 Formula One season will consist of 19 races in 19 different countries, including a stop in Austin, Tex. for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in October. The racing series, commonly seen as the pinnacle of motorsports and automotive engineering, currently feature 11 teams each fielding 2 cars. Powerplants for the 2014 season will be provided by Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Renault.
Hear the difference for yourself: