sport

Todt ready to act for F1 changes

FIA president Jean Todt is ready to crank up the 'music' in Formula One to ensure everybody again sings from the same hymn sheet.

Todt has this week held talks with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo in light of the criticisms the sport has received following the new regulations changes.

Di Montezemolo, in particular, has voiced his concerns, bemoaning the lack of noise - or "music" as he has described it - from the new power units.

The Italian has also described F1 at present as being akin to taxi driving, with drivers fuel saving and coasting rather than going flat out.

Certainly with regard to the lack of decibels from the 1.6-litre V6 power units that are much quieter than the ear-splitting old V8s, Todt has listened to the antagonism and is ready to act.

But it is not without some irony as he said: "Two or three years ago I went to a meeting with the owners of circuits and they expressed a problem.

"They said because of new environment legislation they could not use the circuit as much as they wanted because the cars are too noisy, it was something we needed to address.

"Then when you went to a circuit everyone was putting in earplugs because it was too noisy.

"You take my friend Bernie, he has a little machine here (a hearing aid) because his ears have been destroyed by the noise.

"It (the current lack of noise) is something we have been addressing with all the manufacturers involved in F1, to address the thing even with the new regulations.

"We must see if we can implement in the short, medium, long term, a bigger noise. That we will do and we will get unanimous agreement."

As Ecclestone remarked, the situation at present is "unacceptable to the public".

The 83-year-old added: "People buying tickets are expecting to see what Formula One used to be, and as I've mentioned before, I've had letters from promoters.

"They're all worried if they lose spectators then they are going to be in trouble.

"What is important is that the teams know the problem, the engine manufacturers know the problem, and they're trying to sort it."

Of greater concern for Di Montzemolo is an F1 he describes as "an economy formula", and the apparent "taxi driving" whereby drivers are coasting in order to save fuel.

In addition to the lack of noise, Di Montezemolo said: "We want to increase the value, the passion, the success of Formula One.

"Formula One is our life, so we have to look ahead, sharing with the other teams a good solution.

"I don't want to think of the decline of Formula One, and if we look at it today, we have a race that is no longer Formula One.

"We have to give back to Formula One its characteristics. We cannot have an economy formula. It has to be extreme, with racing from the first lap to the last.

"Formula One is also about the engine music - not noise - and we also have to make sure it is not too complicated with regard to the rules."

As far as Todt is concerned, there is nothing he can do with regard to fuel changes, despite suggestions from Ecclestone of an increase in fuel limit to 110kg from the current 100kg.

Di Montezemolo's comments appear to be nothing more than sour grapes given Mercedes' early-season dominance and his own team's failure to return to the front.

Todt said: "If you ask (Lewis) Hamilton and (Nico) Rosberg if they are driving like taxi drivers...if you have an efficient car you don't have any problem.

"I hear some engines are over the minimum limit of the weight of the engine, which is 145 kilos. If you have an engine five, 10 or 15 kilos heavier of course it is not as powerful.

"It seems Mercedes is stronger. I don't have the power to say 'Let's slow them down'. If they are quicker than the others I think it is a challenge for the other teams to catch them.

"It is completely unfair to punish a team who has been doing a better job."

Given the negativity that has emerged at the start of this new year, Todt has called for a degree of unanimity and positivity if the sport is to thrive as it continues to come to terms with the new rules.

"Of course we wish that at each grand prix we have a different grid, a different winner. That would be ideal for everybody," said Todt.

"But at least we have the responsibility - because motorsport is part of a business - for all of us at a different level to protect it and to be rational and say 'Okay, we will address the situation. What needs to be done to make it better?'

"It is very unfair to those who have been sweating and working very hard to say it is not good."