MANAMA (Reuters) - Formula One’s old V8 engines were too noisy and the paying public - in Britain at least - is showing no signs of being turned off by the quieter new V6 turbos, F1 steward and former racer Derek Warwick said on Friday.
The 59-year-old, president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club whose Silverstone circuit hosts the British Grand Prix, played down fears voiced by some promoters that a drop in decibels would impact on ticket sales.
Speaking to Reuters at the Bahrain Grand Prix, third round of the season, Warwick distanced himself from the negative headlines.
“I’ve been in this sport now for 50 years, I love my sport and I will never talk it down. Do we need to tweak a few things? Yes. Are our fans supporting us? 100 percent,” he said.
”We (British Grand Prix organizers) are in line with last year (on sales) so we can’t ask for much more than that.
“If the fans really think about it, the V8s were too noisy. I think they were ear-bleeding,” he added. “We’ve just got to re-adjust our volume.”
Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker said after last month’s season opener in Melbourne that the quieter cars had dampened the spectacle and suggested other race organizers would be up in arms.
“It will be an issue for promoters all around the world,” he declared.
Singapore promoter Ong Beng Seng, who attended last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, has complained about the lack of noise and the possible impact on his street race.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who is due in Bahrain this weekend for talks with Ecclestone and the head of the governing FIA Jean Todt, has also been heavily critical of the regulation changes.
“The trouble with most people is knee-jerk reactions,” said Warwick, pointing out that Walker’s race regularly lost money with the promoter coming under government pressure.
“I can only tell you from what I see of my garage,” added the Briton, one of the stewards in Bahrain this weekend, who has a Honda concession in Jersey. “I employ 30 people and they are all buzzing about Formula One at the moment.”
Silverstone Circuits managing director Richard Phillips said his July 6 race was on course to match last year’s figures and would make a profit, helped by Lewis Hamilton’s success at Mercedes and Jenson Button having a more competitive McLaren.
Hamilton won in Malaysia, and is current favourite to win the championship, while Button was third in Australia.
“I think the British public are intrigued by what they are seeing in the press and TV and they want to come and make their own minds up about it,” Phillips told Reuters, reporting increased interest after Malaysia.
”I have got no evidence at the moment that these new changes are making any difference to the (ticket) sales. We are seeing some nice little spikes (in sales)...I‘m reasonably encouraged with the way things are going.
“We are quite excited about this year.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis