Formula 1 races could be lost because of the quieter engines that have been introduced this year, the promoter of the Australian Grand Prix has warned.
Ron Walker made the claim as the row over the noise levels at the Melbourne GP rumbles on after the 1.6-litre turbo-charged engines were raced for the first time to the disapproval of many, including Walker and F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone.
"When the car comes down the straight you can’t even hear it. Now you have got every promoter worried that it’s going to turn fans away. You will find promoters dropping out. They will go and get an IndyCar race or something like that to keep the fans.”
Walker is the chairman of the Formula One Promoters’ Association, the group which represents all 19 GPs. The next race is is Malaysia this weekend.
Walker has also written to Ecclestone to inform him that the Association will meet at the Bahrain Grand Prix next month to discuss the issue further.
The Australian GP may well be the first to quit if the situation does not improve. Next year is the last race in its current contract and Walker does not appear enthusiastic about signing up for more. He believes the situation will work in his favour to put pressure on the FIA to make changes.
Reiterating his earlier comments about taking legal action, Walker said promoters could not "just sit back and wait" and that he believed a claim against Ecclestone would not be difficult because he was "clearly in breach of his contract".
"This is not what we bought. I didn’t buy a wimp. Originally, I bought a giant with noise," Walker added to The Independent.
The engine regulations were introduced by the FIA in an attempt to make the sport more environmentally friendly but Walker was dismissive of the new system saying that fans "don't really care" about saving fuel.