F1 Team Mercedes' 'Megaphone Exhaust' Plan Backfires As Debate Continues
The Mercedes F1 team tried out its "'megaphone exhaust' to try to rediscover some excitement in Formula One's aural experience and declared the big metal trumpet as a failure," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. Driver Nico Rosberg "hopped out of his Mercedes at the test session at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on Wednesday and gave his solemn verdict on the makeshift engine amplifier." Rosberg: "Unfortunately, it didn't change anything. There was nothing. It was all the same." The conundrum "goes on, then." F1 is now officially caught between the "rock of the anger" of F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone and "peeved race promoters who want the old shriek back -- the visceral scream of petrol power at high-revs -- and the hard place of manufacturers who want the sport to concentrate on developing equipment" that has meaning in a world "changing fast to environmental technologies" (LONDON TIMES, 5/15). REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported the softer sound provided an "immediate controversy when the season started in Australia in March with some race promoters, who met in Barcelona on Saturday, fearing ticket sales could fall off if fans were alienated by the lack of decibels." Others in favor of the quieter new era argue that "increasing the noise goes against the greener spirit of the regulation changes, which reduce wasted energy from the exhaust and brakes and harness it to improve fuel economy." Mercedes Exec Dir Toto Wolff said last weekend, "It's an interesting moment in time for Formula One. Traditionally you would have said... that Formula One needs to be loud to be spectacular. Maybe now that's changing" (REUTERS, 5/15).
RED BULL DENIES BENT CHASSIS: Baldwin reported in a separate piece Red Bull denied reports that driver Sebastian Vettel's early season struggles were "due to his car having a crooked chassis." The 26-year-old German was given a "new" chassis for last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona and "charged to fourth." Red Bull Chief Engineer Paul Monaghan said, "The 'old' chassis has not been found to be distorted" (REUTERS, 5/15).