Manama: The noise surrounding Formula One’s brave new world raised significantly on Sunday as Sebastian Vettel was branded “disrespectful” for his profane criticism of the engine sound, while unanimous agreement emerged among the sport’s leading figures on the need to urgently address the issue.
Jean Todt, the FIA president, said that he would “not expect” the German to describe the sound as “s---”, while Ron Dennis accused Vettel of lacking the “dignity” required of a world champion.
In a day of frenetic meetings in the paddock, it was announced that the teams will test possible solutions to improve the engine noise in Barcelona next month, and that the chance of a cost cap being implemented for next season is effectively over.
However, the strongest words of the day came from Dennis, now back at the helm at McLaren, who was severe in his condemnation of the four-time world champion.
“Being a world champion requires a dignified approach to everything,” Dennis said. “Putting aside the language for the moment the sentiment is inappropriate. The simple fact is that if he was sat in Mercedes he would be extremely happy. I am quite sure any four or five letter words would be more of joy.
“He should reflect he has had a period of dominance and just because it has been somewhat shaken by Mercedes Benz doesn’t give him licence to be disrespectful of the obligations placed on him as world champion.” Todt, who met the sport’s key players and teams throughout the day, was less stern in his criticism of Vettel, but was clearly displeased with the German’s approach.
The Frenchman said: “I would not expect from an icon of the sport, who is Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion and an ambassador of the sport, to say something negative because it has a big influence. If he came to me and said, ‘I think we should address the problem of the noise,’ he is a significant person and I would listen to that.”
Meanwhile, Todt told reporters that possible solutions to the quieter sound will be tested after the race in Barcelona next month. A working group will also be set up by the FIA to explore ways to improve the turbo noise, although it remains unclear when a solution will be found.
The agreement comes after Bernie Ecclestone, the sport’s octogenarian supremo, and Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari’s president, gave strong criticism of Formula One’s new rules. Ecclestone said earlier in the day that the current state of the sport was “not acceptable to the public”.
The German’s Red Bull team boss Christian Horner rejected Dennis’ criticism of the driver.
“Our drivers, we don’t manipulate what they say in the press,” he told reporters after the race. “They have freedom of speech.
“Perhaps the choice of his specific word wasn’t ideal but I don’t think anyone would disagree with him that the sound of the cars could be better. It’s his opinion and he’s free to express that. If we don’t allow drivers to express themselves, we just end up with robots.”
The news to come out of the Bahrain paddock did not end there, however. Not only did Ecclestone suggest that there could be two more teams on the grid in 2015, taking the total number to 13, but Todt also confirmed that a cost cap will not be delivered for next year.