New Formula One Cars Go Green, Upset Fans

Formula One racing fans are none too pleased with a decision to make F1 cars more eco-friendly — one which resulted in the cars becoming extremely quiet.

“When we talk of the principle disciplines of auto racing, we have to take into account what is happening in the world,” explained Jean Todt, president of the International Automobile Federation that oversees Formula 1, last month. “We have to take into account the environment.”

This desire to make auto racing a cleaner, greener sport  led to a controversial decision which saw new F1 cars fitted with hybrid engines. While the engines are undoubtedly greener, they come with a sonic side effect: like any hybrid, they’re whisper quiet. Fans and promoters of the racing series aren’t happy, saying the quiet new engines make the races less exciting.

Without the loud roar of the engines, fans say, the races just aren’t the same. Organizers of the Australian Grand Prix even went so far as to claim the quiet race was a breach of contract. Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief exec Andrew Westacott claimed the lack of sound made the race less “sexy.”

Not everyone despises the sound of the new engines, however. Racecar driver turned manager Steffen Moller had this to say:

“I know there’s a lot of criticism about the sound but we see a lot of electrical cars on the road now and Formula One must be the point where all the manufacturers look to find new ideas. So for me it’s not about the sound, it’s more about the top of the performance for what you can do engineering-wise.”

What do you think? Should auto racing stick with tradition, or make changes for the sake of the environment at the risk of alienating fans?