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Tuesday April 15, 2014 MYT 4:42:01 PM
Tuesday April 15, 2014 MYT 4:42:55 PM
by alan baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One is on the right track with its new V6 turbo engines and the governing body can ignore criticism from those in the sport pushing their own agendas, according to former FIA president Max Mosley.
The International Automobile Federation is conducting a study into the noise of the new power units, which critics have said is not loud or exciting enough compared to the old V8s.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has talked scathingly of racers becoming 'taxi drivers' because of the importance of fuel economy while F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said changes must be made.
FIA president Jean Todt has ruled out any rethink, however.
Mosley, speaking to Reuters at his London home after three of the season's 19 races, said his French successor was handling the situation much as he would have done.
"I'd do pretty much what Jean is doing, which is take no notice," he smiled.
"Or pay lip service to the discussion - 'Oh, that's interesting, Bernie' - but in the end take no notice because there's nothing anybody can do, the regulations are fixed, nobody can change anything.
"If you try to change them, Mercedes will stop you and your own rules stop you. So there's nothing to discuss until 2015 and arguably not even then because of the notice periods. So Jean can just very gently take the Mickey."
The new power units, which include energy recovery systems harnessing exhaust gases and brake heat, were introduced this season in the biggest technical change in decades.
Mercedes have emerged as the dominant power, chasing their fourth win in a row in China this weekend, while rival engine makers Renault and Ferrari are playing catch-up.
The result has been negative comment from certain quarters, with Red Bull's quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel saying the sound of the engines was 's***' while a Ferrari survey reported that 83 percent of fans were disappointed with the new format.
Williams technical head Pat Symonds and Mercedes technical head Paddy Lowe both warned in Bahrain that the sport was in danger of damaging the business by talking itself down.
Mosley said the public was not easily fooled.
"It's quite entertaining because you know all the people and you know the way they react and they are all, of course, pushing their own particular agenda," he said. "But what they don't realise is that the public understands that.
"The truth of the matter is I think that the public don't take the slightest notice. I don't think anyone is going to say 'Ooh, Vettel says the engines are rubbish so I'm not going to turn the television on Sunday'. It just doesn't happen.
"People might turn it off if it's a boring race, but everyone will turn it on."
Mosley was running the FIA when the move towards the new engines started a decade ago and has always been a keen supporter.
The idea then was that the performance differentiator should not be how much power could be gleaned from a fixed engine capacity but how much could be extracted from a limited amount of fuel.
"What we've got now is not the ultimate, it should have been four cylinders ideally but everything is a bit of a compromise, but it is completely the right way to go," said the 74-year-old Briton.
"The people who don't like it have got this thing about the noise. I think that's complete nonsense. People will get used to the noise and then they won't all end up deaf like me."
While in office, Mosley always worked closely with Ecclestone but the former FIA boss, who handed over to Todt in 2009, disagreed with his old associate on the engines however.
"It's a really interesting technology and it's change. In the end, Formula One depends on fashion and being fashionable. And the essence of fashion is change. If you don't have change, you just disappear," said Mosley.
"Those cars were becoming dinosaurs and then the sponsors all have to answer to some sort of board about their green credentials," added the Briton, whose final year in office was overshadowed by a sado-masochistic sex scandal that led to Mosley pursuing legal action and privacy campaigns.
"Well, these cars are still very fast... my bet is that by this time next year, people will have forgotten all about the sound. They'll be fascinated by the cars, by what's happening.
"It's a slight problem that Mercedes seem to have got the jump on everyone else but that's because they've done a better job. The others have just got to work harder or spend more money."
(Editing by John O'Brien)
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